At the beginning of the month, after extensive consultation, development and testing, the West St Leonards Forum publicly launched its website The objective of this website is to support the overall aims of the Forum in providing information to the local community that makes up West St Leonards.

The website was built from scratch by Graham Wilkins, a design consultant as well as one of the Forum Team members. He is justifiably proud of it, as a website adds credibility to any organisation: “I feel the website is inviting yet informative, and it is another example of how the West St Leonards Forum is moving forward in its desire to act as the interface between the local community and Hastings Borough Council.”

South Saxon wetland
PICTURE:  Susan Gilbert

The mission statement of the Forum includes “being designated by the Council to draft a statutory neighbourhood plan”. This is a way of helping local communities influence the planning of the area where they live and work and, according to Planning Help, a project of the Campaign to Protect Rural England, can:

• Develop a shared vision for your neighbourhood.
• Choose where new homes, shops, offices and other development should be built.
• Identify and protect important local green spaces.
• Influence what new buildings should look like.

A website is only as good as its content and this website hopes to bring together all the information necessary to make informed decisions, not just by the public but also the local council. An example of this is the article in the News section, Hastings and St.Leonards: A town of Green Living Spaces. This references a project in Birmingham to “apply the very latest scientific thinking behind the National Ecosystem Assessment” while it prepares to “enhance its economy, its spatial planning, its health care and its low carbon future”.

The Green Living Spaces proposal is about “changing the way the City Council does things; joining up agendas, agencies, services, users and funding; and re-positioning the importance of Parks”. The article poses the question: “Could Hastings and St Leonards design a clear Green Living Spaces Plan to secure, enhance and ensure a healthy town?” And why not?

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