Community members have been put at the heart of plans to regenerate the old Broomgrove power station site in Ore Valley in Hastings.
Recently a group of local activists and residents, under the banner of the Heart of Hastings Community Land Trust (HoHCLT), have been granted a licence to operate on the site for the next 18 months and to put together a planning application for how the land should be developed. With this in mind they have already begun reaching out to residents across the Ore Valley to seek ideas and support, and will be hosting a daytime consultation event at the Bridge Community Centre on 26th November, 2-4PM, where residents will be invited to begin conversations and hear more about the plans. This meeting will be followed up in the evening with a family friendly event onsite from 5 til 9PM, with a DJ providing light music, a free barbecue, wood burners, shelter and lighting to make sure everyone stays warm and safe. This will be a further opportunity for residents to meet theteaminvolved,tofindouthow they can support and to give their ideas for the future development of the site.
The Ore Valley project has captured the interest of Assemble, the architects behind the 2015
Turner Prize-winning Granby Four Streets CLT development of housing in a deprived area of Liverpool. As design advisers for the project Assemble will “help us to design a future for another very poor part of the country,” says Jess Steele. Steele herself has a considerable track record having earlier this year received an OBE for her “services to community assets” following her successful work on the campaign to rescue Hastings Pier from dereliction, a project for which she managed to raise £11,400,000 of Heritage Lottery Funding.
Daniel O’Connor, who grew up in Ore Valley, is lead volunteer for the project. “I’ve seen the power station go from useless relic to dangerous eyesore and then ignored waste ground. I’m excited by the possibilities that the CLT project can bring, greatly benefiting local people.” Having been long-term unemployed, the benefit of being involved with the project, Daniel says, “has been massive. I’ve gained skills and found purpose working with good people on a project I believe in. I’ve growninconfidence,myphysical and mental health have improved, and I feel a part of my community.”
Hastings resident Jonny Ladd, 43, is involved with the CLT as manager of the old power station site. Currently helping to organise
neighbourhood events, he’s enthusiastic about the huge potential for the community. “The affordable housing will be crucial to the valley, also giving local people the chance to learn new skills through the build.” Already mentoring the construction of several wooden seating pods, Jonny continued, “It’s very rewarding to pass on my woodworking and design skills to volunteers working on the site, and to see the new friendships that are being created in the community.”
The 2.3 hectare site was last used to provide power during the miner’s strike in 1984, and was the site of a large fire in 2000 when thousands of car tyres which had been illegally dumped in the smokestacks of the old station were set alight. Following this the smokestacks were taken down brick by brick rather than demolished with explosives to avoid asbestos contaminating the area, and the site has lain derelict since.
Jess Steele the project coordinator said, “The site is ‘allocated’ for at least 50 housing units but we don’t have to put up with the usual private developers squeezing whatever profit they can get. Instead, this can be a community-built site with a mix of housing, workspaces, community facilities, woodland and ecology. We are looking to build up a network of as many local people as possible who want to have their say and be involved in this exciting project.”