OB plans to be launched at public forum this month

White Rock Neighbourhood Ventures Limited (WRNV), the local development company which completed its purchase of the derelict Observer Building on Cambridge Road a year ago today, is preparing to submit its full application for planning permission in April this year. And on 26th February Hastings Borough Council will host a public pre-planning forum at Muriel Matters House at which the company and its architects IF_DO will lay out its redevelopment proposals for discussion by councillors, planning officers and invited community representatives. Members of the public will be welcome to attend, ask questions and provide feedback.

Beth Woolf, one of the project managers, issued a statement last week indicating that the development will consist of a mix of residential units with capped rents, workspaces for local businesses, and four floors of leisure space including a public roof garden – similar to the WRNV ‘flagship’ project next door at Rock House. 

There are likely to be around 16 homes – the precise number depending on whether some family units will be created. [For more details about selection of tenants and caps click here

As to workspaces Ms Woolf referred to two “passionate, locally grown businesses” (unidentified) with whom the team at WRNV are working. “We are hopeful to be able to make announcements about those tenancies in the coming months.”

The public leisure space, she added, is likely to include a restaurant, a multi-purpose events space for community use, several function/meeting rooms for hire, an “internal street” of community services and retail businesses, a health/fitness facility, and food and drink provision. The leisure space will be operated by a new charity under the name of Leisure and Learning.

Architects IF_DO are particularly interested in what the building can offer young people in the town. They will be running a “fun family activity” in Hastings Library next month for children to imagine how they might use it in the future. There are also plans for “an experimental season of events and activities” in the building this summer.

Ms Woolf is fervent in her enthusiasm: “We are delighted to be moving the project forward. In the next few years, the Observer Building will become a vibrant centre for living, working and enjoyment. We want it to resume the important role it has previously played as a bustling community hub in the town centre.”

She has also indicated that WRNV, together with partner charities Heart of Hastings CLT and Leisure and Learning, are currently recruiting for five new positions over the coming months to work not only on this development project but on “wider neighbourhood regeneration at White Rock.” 

The pre-planning forum will take place at 6pm on 26th February at the Council Chamber, Muriel Matters House on Hastings seafront. The children’s event will be held between 10.30am and 12.30pm on 17th March at Hastings Library. 

For information of future employment opportunities please check www.theob.org.uk and www.heartofhastings.org.uk in the coming months. Current opportunities exist for investors and volunteers. 

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