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Observer Building Detail © Luke-Hayes

Observer Building Detail © Luke Hayes

Watch this space!

On Monday the White Rock Neighbourhood Ventures offer of £1.25 million for the old Observer Building was accepted. If all goes to plan, by 21 December this year, the OB will have an exciting new future. HOT’s Erica Smith caught up with Beth Woolf from Jericho Road who has been busy working with White Rock Neighbourhood Ventures, buying the Hastings Observer building. 

00OBLuke-Hayes

Photo © Luke Hayes

What’s been happening?

BW: After a great deal of deliberation, surveys, tours and phone calls, White Rock Neighbourhood Ventures (owners of Rock House) are delighted to announce that our offer has been accepted to purchase the Observer Building. We can’t bear to see the vast, beautiful space wasted any longer when it has the potential to offer so much to the town. We are in a strong position having made a success of the community-led development of Rock House (and being right next door to the Observer Building helps!).

Although the project will be a stretch for our team, we know we have the resources, networks, creativity and energy to act as lead developer and realise the building’s value for the community.

What are your plans?

BW: In a nutshell, our plan is to occupy the building as soon as possible, making it economically productive with local tenants paying capped rent on the floors where it is safe to do so. We will approach the task of renovation in phases, securing grant funding and social investment along the way to complete the works on each floor.

What is the benefit to the local community?

  • LIVING RENT HOMES – 15-20 capped rent flats likely to be managed by community land trust Heart of Hastings CLT, placing them in community ownership forever
  • CAPPED RENT WORK SPACE – 4 floors of affordable workspace for local businesses
  • A HUGE COMMUNITY-SELF MANAGED BUILDING in a growing network of buildings with a strong ethos of collaboration and contribution to the neighbourhood
  • TRANSFORMATIONAL EXPERIENCES that bring local people together around opportunities to shape the building and boost their skills
  • THE ‘ROTTING HEART’ OF OUR NEIGHBOURHOOD brought back to life, put to productive use and made sustainable by a viable business model suited to the people of this town
Inside the Observer Building photo © Luke Hayes

Inside the Observer Building photo © Luke Hayes

How can people who love the OB and want it to have a successful future get involved?

BW: This is a huge undertaking for our team, by far our most ambitious project yet. We are encouraged by the amazing gestures of support and interest from local people so far, and we are very clear that this project will only succeed if it is underpinned by a community wide effort.

We’re looking for people to:

  • BECOME TENANTS – we want to support people who need affordable space (generally artistic, creative, tech and leisure) and people who have something to contribute locally (social enterprise, charities, community action). Express an interest in space on our website
  • VOLUNTEER – join our mailing list to find out about the innovative ways you could contribute to our community led development approach and get in touch to tell us your ideas / skillsets
  • INVEST– to support affordable space for living, working, leisure and community action.

Watch out for the our Crowdfunder launching in the next few days – we’re working on progressing the purchase at the moment, aiming to exchange contracts on 22 November and to have the keys in our hands on 20 December – eek!

In the meantime, we will be publishing updates on our website and social media, including an FAQ document, plans and financials. If you have any questions or ideas please contact me, beth@jerichoroad.co.uk

Posted 18:51 Wednesday, Nov 14, 2018 In: Home Ground

2 Comments


Please read our comment guidelines before posting on HOT
  1. Chris Lewcock

    Congratulations and good luck.

    Comment by Chris Lewcock — Friday, Nov 16, 2018 @ 20:53

  2. Kay

    Community space? Any chance of any community space? It was great as community space.

    Comment by Kay — Thursday, Nov 15, 2018 @ 20:25

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