Does Hastings need a new ‘mid-market restaurant’? And if it does should £1.7m of your money be used to fund it’s development?
In 2019 Hasting Borough Council (HBC) approved spending of £1.2 to redevelop the former Harold Place toilets site to create a restaurant that would then be let out to an independent operator. The council was planning to borrow the money to fund the project over a 40 year term.
Tonight, even before the project has begun, HBC’s cabinet is set to approve a 40 per cent increase in what it plans to spend, boosting the council’s financial commitment to the project to £1.7m. A report will tell the cabinet: “This property development would fit well with the regeneration and economic development aspirations for the town.”
The Labour councillors who make up the decision making cabinet will be told: “The site is in a highly sustainable location in Hastings Town Centre. The site is well served by local bus routes and train lines located at Hastings Train Station a five minutes’ walk away.
“Private vehicle use is discouraged due to lack of car parking provision, while customers and staff using the building have good opportunities to use sustainable modes of transport.”
The report concedes that the £1.7m is an estimate and until tendered prices are actually received there will be considerable uncertainty on the costs of the project: “An increase of the budget to £1.7m is considered to be prudent to cover the increase in costs; inflation and fees and ensuring it meets the latest building regulation requirements in respect.”
Under the plan originally formulated in 2019 HBC would borrow the over a 40 year period with the long term lease that would be struck with the restaurant operator would be be for just 15 years.
In justifying the demolition of the old toilets in 2018 the council said the toilet block was costing more than £62,000 per year and needed a further £150,000 for immediate repairs and claim that closing the toilet – even with demolition costs – has already saved money.
At the moment the council will only say that the agreed operator is a “relatively well known and quality restaurant company.”