Plans that could see more than £100m flooding in to Hastings’ to regenerate the town and its economy were approved this week.
On Tuesday it was announced that Hastings’ had secured a £24.3 million share of a £3.6 billion pot of money offered to 101 towns across the UK through the government’s Towns Fund Town Investment Plan. And the news gets better as it is likely the government’s investment will attract a further £85m of match funding which is expected to ‘re-set’ the regeneration targets for the town.
Plan on how to spend the £24.3m investment include a new green and Low Carbon Centre of Excellence that will provide new commercial space while also helping the town seize the opportunities of the emerging green economy. It will also boost what the town can offer for tourists through improvements to the Castle and other public spaces.
Carole Dixon, Co-chair of Hastings Town Deal Board, said: “We are grateful that the Government saw the regeneration opportunities these proposals offer our seaside town and we are delighted with the news that Hastings has been successful in being awarded £24.3m funding through the Towns Fund
“£24.3 is a significant amount, and we are excited to be able to use this to enable the successful projects to come to life. Helping to regenerate our town and creating more opportunities for businesses and residents sits at the heart of the bid.
“Although this is a huge step in the process, the hard work is just beginning. Over the next 12 months, business cases for each project will need to be developed and submitted to government for approval. It is only then that the funding will be released, and work can start.”
Graham Peters, Co-chair of Hastings Town Deal Board, explained: “The programme which was built around seven project themes offers Hastings incredible and exciting opportunities to drive forward sustainable growth and prosperity. Hastings will continue to thrive as a healthy, vibrant and quirky seaside town that people love to visit, live, and work in.
“Everyone involved has put in great energy to develop the Town Investment Plan. We saw over 150 innovative ideas through the open call for expression of interest process: these were independently assessed against government criteria to ensure they met the brief for the funding.”
Councillor Paul Barnett, deputy leader of Hastings Borough Council, added: “This amounts to a remarkable £100m+ investment in Hastings and demonstrates the confidence that the government, private sector and local community organisations have in transforming our economic and cultural offer.
“I would like to express my gratitude to everyone who has been involved in this process. This includes those on the Town Deal board who have worked incredibly hard to secure this funding, as well as local organisations and residents who submitted their regeneration ideas for the town.
“This offers our whole town great prospects and is exactly the boost our local economy needs, following the huge impact that has been felt by COVID-19.”
Hastings and Rye’s MP Sally-Ann Hart MP, was thrilled at: “…this fantastic investment in our town, businesses and residents.
“With over £24 million in funding a real step change can be made in the prospects of Hastings and St Leonards. There were some fantastic programmes included in the bid which will now make final business cases to the Government to get the money to invest. From investing in Hastings Castle, to improving the town centre; creating opportunities for green sector jobs to improving local public realm for residents and visitors to enjoy. This is a great boost for our town and an announcement that should excite us all.
“I would like to thank everyone who was involved with the bid that was put together, including the members of the Towns Deal Board, led brilliantly by Carole Dixon and Graham Peters, and also to the Officers at the Council who put in the hard work of designing and formulating this fantastic bid. Finally, I want to thank everyone who came forward with ideas on ways in which we could improve our area, and although not every project could be included in the bid, I was inspired by the enthusiasm and creativity of so many people across our town. It gives real hope for the future.”
Councillor Andy Patmore, Leader of the Conservative Group on Hastings Borough Council, also welcomed the news saying: “With match funding and financing from the private and public sector, the Town Deal represents more than £100 million of cash inflow to Hastings. Plans to provide green low carbon skills training, promote our unique heritage and regenerate the town centre to provide an urban mix of businesses and housing, will provide jobs and a long-term boost for our local economy”.
Chris Lewcock of the Hastings Urban Design Group said: “It’s good to see £24.3m coming in to the town. About time too. Towns that were earlier off the stocks in bidding were told last September.
“I had and have a lot of reservations about the way it was handled but a lot of effort must have gone in by Officers and they should be thanked. The Hastings Borough Council itself has limited capacity to handle this amount of development monies and I hope not too much gets sucked back out of the local economy by external consultants and contractors.
“The bid was for £27m, it will be interesting to see what got lost on the way. I also hope going forward, as projects are developed in more detail, much greater efforts than hitherto will be made to engage the local community, eg creating a citizens panel as other towns have done, and to be fully transparent not just the occasional token press release about what’s already been decided. Progress on the Town Investment Plan could be a standing item on the HBC Cabinet agenda?
“A good example to watch will be development of proposals for the Castle. The submitted bid ideas are at the extreme end of arm-waving vagueness, and clearly thrown into the pot at the last minute. A lot more meat needs to go into that particular pie and I’m sure local residents, if asked (and responded to), could make a really valuable contribution.”
Read the full Town Investment Plan by following this link https://static1.squarespace.com/static/5f7f010070f9e842586da8d6/t/6022b5257b4c1d2bfb9da3ec/1612887351916/Hastings_Town+Investment+Plan.pdf