The Hidden Hastings Heritage project has been awarded £277,000 by the Heritage Lottery Fund to “uncover and showcase the rich natural, archaeological and historical heritage of Hastings Country Park.” 

A partnership initiative between Hastings Borough Council (HBC) and environmental charity Groundwork South, the project “will engage with new and diverse audiences and raise awareness of the Park…including an education programme, conservation volunteering, heritage trails, get-involved days and family events, a clear digital presence for the park and interactive online content,” says the charity which “works to transform lives in the UK’s most disadvantaged communities”.

The two year project will reveal the “role of the park in the growth of Victorian Hastings, as home to RAF Fairlight, in the development of radar during the WW1, its links to John Logie Baird and Marianne North” and provide “activities and events in the park for schools, community groups, local people and visitors,” says HBC leader Peter Chowney. 

A integral part of the scheme is a purpose-built, environmentally friendly visitor centre, on which construction by a consortium, headed by SIA Design and Build, is about to begin. The new building received EU funding under the Interreg North West Europe programme. In 2018 HBC approved capital provision of £771,000, including £402,000 of EU money.

The news was welcomed by the Friends of Hastings Country Park Nature Reserve, which says it has been involved since the beginning.

Groundwork South’s announcement of “some capital works to improve access and paths,” has fuelled speculation that some of the funding might be used to repair the Ecclesbourne Glen footpaths – part of the England Coast Path – closed for several years as a result of controversial landslips.

“HBC and EastSussex CC claim footpaths across Ecclesbourne Glen are still likely to slide further, but refuse to produce any evidence of this or to release reports concerning the landslip…To date HBC have refused to apply for grant funding for remedial works in the glen,” says the Save Ecclesbourne Glen group.

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