Hastings community group ‘proud to lead’ £2m project to rejuvenate town’s high street

Teams from Heart of Hastings CLT and Project Artworks, standing outside 12 Claremont, Hastings, their latest project gifted to them as a community asset transfer from East Sussex County Council. Picture: Jonny Thompson
Teams from Heart of Hastings CLT and Project Artworks, standing outside 12 Claremont, Hastings, their latest project gifted to them as a community asset transfer from East Sussex County Council. Picture: Jonny Thompson

Hastings is set to receive £2 million of public funding after being chosen as one of 69 high streets to benefit from a cash injection.

The money will be used to rejuvenate the America Ground – which stretches from Harold Place up to the Trinity Triangle and the old Observer building – as part of a four-year programme which will begin in 2020.

The £2 million has been awarded to Heart of Hastings Community Land Trust (CLT) – an initiative to safeguard living and work space – after it made a successful bid for a share of £95 million, set aside to help rejuvenate 69 high streets across the country.

The initiative will be funded by combining £40 million from the Department for Digital, Culture Media and Sport’s Heritage High Street Fund with £52 million from the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government’s Future High Street Fund.

A further £3 million will be provided by the National Lottery Heritage Fund.

The Hastings project, being carried out by a partnership of 19 local community organisations, will repurpose derelict buildings as productive community spaces, restore iconic heritage features of the high street and provide a cultural and educational programme for local people and visitors.

Rodney Buse, chairman of Heart of Hastings CLT, said: “Heart of Hastings CLT is proud to be leading a team of dedicated people and organisations from our local community to drive forward this exciting work.

“Our approach is community-led and inclusive. All stakeholders, including Hastings Borough Council, are working in a partnership of equals. We all need to be part of revitalising this unique area and celebrate its fascinating history and independent spirit.”

The proposed programme is likely to include funds to transform empty heritage buildings into creative spaces, the completion of repair works to historic buildings, as well as innovative training programmes in partnership with East Sussex College.

Leader of Hastings Borough Council, councillor Peter Chowney said: “It’s very good news that the Heart of Hastings bid has been approved, and I’m pleased Hastings Council was able to help.

“I look forward to the council working with Heart of Hastings and partners to develop the detailed proposals for restoring these important historic buildings in the Trinity Triangle area. This has indeed been a good example of partnership working, and a successful one.”

Heart of Hastings CLT and its community partners will be working up a detailed programme of work in the coming months to fully secure the £2 million grant, to be announced in January 2020 by Historic England.

If members of the public have questions, want to suggest ideas, or would like to be involved in shaping the programme of work for the America Ground, please contact shelley@heartofhastings.org.uk.