COUNTY NEWS: Major Â£500m harbour plan unveiled for East Sussex town
A major Â£500m plan to regenerate an East Sussex town has been unveiled today (Friday) for the first time.
The ambitious Hastings Harbour Quarter project will see more than half a billion pounds of investment pumped into the town creating jobs, extra parking, more homes and a state-of-the-art working marina for up to 600 vessels.
Preserving and enhancing Hastings’ unique maritime heritage for generations to come is said to be at the heart of the new development.
Construction of a new harbour will provide jobs in the area, from construction jobs through to the ultimate job creation connected with the operation of the harbour, new public realm, marina and many associated facilities and attractions.
It is also intended to provide in the region of 1,300 much-needed houses, including homes for harbour and key workers.
As part of the process, Hastings Harbour Quarter – a newly-former company which will undertake the development – will be consulting with the public and interested parties over the size, location and access arrangements.
Andrew Doyle, director of Hastings Harbour Quarter, said: “This is truly a transformational potential development for the people of Hastings. The intention is to construct a ‘halo’ development as an exemplar for seaside towns and communities.
“We believe that this development will provide many much-needed jobs and continue the regeneration of Hastings which has seen tremendous improvements in the last few years.”
He added: “The many elements of this project here mentioned will secure the prosperity and community of Hastings for generations, with growth and a thriving future for all the people of Hastings.”
HHQ said it also sees the proposal as a protective band for the cliff face and country park above, and that fishing industries and angling will have, for the first time, a safe harbour. It added there remains a great deal of work to confirm the harbour would, with public consultation and support, be viable.
Hastings Borough Council has confirmed it has started talking to partners about the possibility of developing a harbour, housing and transport improvements in the Old Town of Hastings.
Council leader Peter Chowney said: “We have been approached by Hastings Harbour Quarter Ltd, a company specially formed for the purpose. Its directors are experienced developers and architects who have carried out a number of large projects across the country.
“The scheme is at a very early stage, but it has potentially very significant benefits for the town, including a new marina providing moorings, boat storage facilities and support services; around 1,000 to 1,300 new homes; a protected launching and landing site for our fishing fleet; and transport improvements to the area.
“The proposal could have a substantial and lasting direct benefit to Hastings, with its construction alone worth around £500m. The spending power of the residents of the new homes is expected to be around £26m per annum, with significant additional spending from the many thousands of new visitors the development could attract.
“But there are still a lot of questions to be answered, before I’d be comfortable with the scheme. I would want to see at least 25 per cent of the new homes as social housing, access for vehicles would need to be achieved without damaging the Stade and its character, and car parking lost at Rock-a-Nore would need to be replaced, ideally with underground car parks. It would also need to protect, and indeed enhance, our local fishery, along with the existing attractions on the Stade.
“But these are very early days, and we will debate the principle of the work at our cabinet meeting on September 11.”
He added: “The ‘point of no return’ is a long way away, but the potential benefits for Hastings are significant, so we owe it to our community to take the scheme seriously to see if it can benefit the town and its resident.”
Amber Rudd, MP for Hastings and Rye, has also responded to today’s announcement.
She said: “This scheme has the potential to deliver fantastic new opportunities for our town through boosting the supply of housing, improving local transport, creating jobs and providing new facilities for our fishing fleet.
“However, we must make sure this development is in the best interests of our community. I’m pleased there will be further discussion and consideration of the proposals before a decision is made on whether to take it forward.”
Cllr Keith Glazier, East Sussex County Council leader, added: “While still early days, this is an exciting proposal which could potentially have significant economic benefits not just for Hastings but for the whole area. Clearly there are a large number of transport, environmental and financial challenges to overcome but we will work with the borough council and other partners to endeavour to address these issues, which need to be resolved to enable the scheme to progress.”