By James Leathers, Executive Director, HoH

The Sea Space board stated they would assess proposals not only on price but against community benefit, site specific matters, financial strength and deliverability.

The Power Station site lies between two of the poorest neighbourhoods in Britain. During the years it has remained undeveloped, Hastings’ deprivation has worsened from 39th to 13th nationally. An objective consultant’s report has told Sea Space that grant capital is required to address the site’s constraints and bring forward any compliant development. 

We thought this context would persuade Sea Space not to allow Hastings to miss out on vital funding and that an approach that excludes the existing community is no longer acceptable.

The HoH bid benefited from £200,000+ of investment in evaluating the project, plus in excess of 10,000 hours of community time and effort over a three-year period.

We began with such hope. It grew when Hastings Borough Council offered us a licence to occupy the former Power Station site. We were encouraged by national policies designed to bolster community-led housing and environmentally responsible development. We enthused funders who recognise that traditional top-down regeneration is demonstrably failing and who have the foresight to foster innovation that gets inclusive results.

At our consultations local people supported the long-term benefits of our scheme: affordable-in-perpetuity homes, low energy bills, construction skills that could lead to decent jobs, care provision, and enhancement of the capabilities of the local community.

The partnership between HoH and Bioregional Homes shows how we rose to our challenges and found the expertise to understand and tackle the site’s constraints along with a company with a track record of developing sustainable housing schemes.

Given that Sea Space is a regeneration company, largely if not wholly funded by the public purse, they should answer the following questions transparently:

• In what ways was the Gemselect scheme considered a better scheme at meeting the stipulated criteria? Can this be substantiated? 

• What number of affordable homes are planned by Gemselect? HoH proposed 60, representing 75% of our total scheme.

• What social benefit will be created? We identified £1m plus.

• What level of jobs and employment opportunities will be created, and will the preferred scheme have any relationship with the adjacent college campus?  

• How is it affordable without grant, given the constraints of the site and the conclusions of a previous report commissioned by Hastings Borough Council?

• Will any purchase monies directly benefit the communities of the Ore Valley or will they be spent outside this area?

• Will the planned development use modern methods of construction and build competencies in this fast-emerging field of activity?

• Will construction be environmentally friendly?

• Will homes be energy efficient and save potentially 70% of energy cost, thus increasing their affordability?

There must be assurances that this land is not left unused for another decade In the meantime we propose to keep our grant options open pending a final decision on outcome.

Read “Ore Valley: HoH Bid Rejected

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