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Not the Sea Space board at work but a meeting of HoH's bottom-up development (Bud) team al fresco on the Ore Valley site.

Not the Sea Space board at work but a meeting of HoH’s bottom-up development (Bud) team al fresco on the Ore Valley site.

More hold-ups for HoH’s Ore Valley housing scheme

Sea Space’s decision to ‘market-test’ the Ore Valley site on which Heart of Hastings plans an enviromentally friendly and affordable housing project creates further headaches for the community land trust. Nick Terdre reports.

Heart of Hastings Community Land Trust had hoped to be given the Ore Valley site where it plans to build a housing estate with some 76 homes. The site has been owned by regeneration company Sea Space since 2008, but its planned Millennium Communities project didn’t work out, meaning that the heavily contaminated site has remained unused and derelict ever since the power plant which was housed there was shut down 40 years ago.

Sea Space has confirmed its intention of ‘market-testing’ the site. A spokesman told HOT that it “intends to offer the site to the market by informal tender in the near future, with Savill’s acting as its agent. The company’s plan is to find a developer which offers the best balance of community benefits along with the knowledge and expertise to ensure they’re deliverable.”

HOT understands that companies registering an interest will be invited to present to the board, which will decide which applicant best fulfils its conditions.

However, in the interim HoH has been told it will have to vacate the site before market-testing can take place. It has been present on the site since 2016, running community events and making it available for community groups to use, under licence from Hastings Borough Council, itself under license from Sea Space.

“This is incredibly hard for us and our volunteers, the BUD [bottom-up development] team, after all the time and energy we have put in since we were invited to the site over two years ago,” said administrator Shelley Feldman.

“Only credible option”

“We think this could be avoided if Sea Space would allow us to present our case for the land right now and maintain that we offer the only credible option for developing the site in a way that is sustainable and will provide actual affordable homes for those in need,” she said.

All equipment will need to be moved.

All equipment will need to be moved.

But unless Sea Space has a sudden change of heart, HoH will have to move all its equipment, including four containers, in the next few weeks, though Feldman said the council has kindly offered temporary free storage.

Sea Space – formal name Hastings & Bexhill Renaissance Ltd – is a dormant company whose regeneration activities have been taken over by Sea Change Sussex. The Ore Valley site is its main remaining asset, the spokesman said.

Meanwhile HOH has risen to another challenge thrown its way, this time the council’s insistence that it partner with an experienced developer. It has brought on board Bioregional Homes, which boasts a track record of creating “genuinely affordable homes that are zero-carbon, built from sustainable materials, that encourage recycling, food growing and biodiversity, and communities that are great places to live and work.”

It is also a registered provider, one of the conditions required by the council. “With Bioregional’s support we earnestly believe we will acquire [the Ore Valley site] for the benefit of the town,” said Feldman. “Watch this space!”

However HOT understands that the holdups caused by the council requirement and Sea Space’s market-testing will preclude HoH from applying for a grant from the government’s £163 million Community Housing Fund for community-led housing schemes, as it had planned.

One of four containers which HoH needs to remove from the site.

One of four containers which HoH needs to remove from the site.

 

 

Posted 11:49 Monday, Apr 1, 2019 In: Home Ground

3 Comments


Please read our comment guidelines before posting on HOT
  1. ken davis

    Market testing my backside! This is yet another farce foisted on well meaning people. It is no longer necessary to obtain best (market) value for government assets and adding community value can be taken into account. There are numerous schemes now nationwide which can be cited if necessary.
    Given that central government was supposed to have broken up all regeneration quangos years ago how are these scoundrels allowed to carry on?

    Comment by ken davis — Thursday, Apr 4, 2019 @ 16:48

  2. Dave Young

    The usual lack of imagination and failure of political will endemic to Hastings. A supine and unimaginative planning department that won’t countenance anything other than a standard commercial agreement with a developer combined with SeaSpace/Change/whatever’s extremely dubious past record on large publicly funded projects means HoH will be stitched up.

    Comment by Dave Young — Thursday, Apr 4, 2019 @ 08:26

  3. Ms.Doubtfire

    This sounds like a very mean change of face to me – why give this group hopes only for them to be dashed? Surely Sea Change must have known all along that the group would not qualify to take over this site. It all sounds very unfair. And extremely odd.

    Comment by Ms.Doubtfire — Wednesday, Apr 3, 2019 @ 14:56

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