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Heritage cars

Are the days of car parking on the seafront numbered? (Picture: TS)

Plans to ‘reduce parking on seafront’ revealed

Hastings Borough Council (HBC) have set out plans that, among other things, could see curbs to car parking on the seafront, and a significant reduction of traffic in the town centre. A consultation paper Heritage Strategy for Hastings has just been published and the public have until 28 April to comment. Toby Sargent reports.

Heritage is a slippery eel of a concept. One man, or woman’s, architectural masterpiece can be another’s ‘monstrous carbuncle,’ to use the phrase memorably coined by Prince Charles back in 1984. So consensus on individual buildings is rare. But most of us can agree that ‘heritage’ in its broadest sense is a good thing, to be preserved, promoted and cherished. And it’s good to see HBC taking a long hard look at the town’s built and natural environment, and trying to find a strategy to do just that.

Thoughtful and clearly written analysis

The Drury McPherson Partnership was commissioned to produce a report last year and the result, just published, makes fascinating reading. It runs to just over 50 pages, making 22 policy recommendations, and providing a thoughtful and clearly written analysis of where we’ve got to in this area, and where we should be going.

Heritage cars 2

‘Oh we do love to be beside the . . carpark’ – a stroll in the sun at St Leonards (Photo TS)

HBC’s work so far to bring about ‘heritage-based regeneration’ in the town is praised but, they say, ‘much remains to be done.

‘The town does not benefit nearly as much as it should from its location, or the world-famous ‘brand’ of its name, and there are still high levels of deprivation in some areas.’ The report also shrewdly observes that ‘Hastings should be the centre of 1066 country, whereas at present it is the hole in the doughnut of cultural tourism.’

Heritage – a ‘priceless and irreplaceable asset’

Their recommendations, which will inform HBC’s own policy-making in this area, to be agreed later in the summer, are wide-ranging. Objectives include making heritage a ‘central aspect of regeneration’ and embracing its role as a ‘priceless and irreplaceable asset.’

They make a strong case for directing resources and effort to enhance the castle on West Hill, and doing more to make the town centre more of a focus for visitors. It is, after all, the main point of arrival for most and needs to be better managed for visitors, with clearer links to the Old Town, they suggest.


Hastings Pier – heritage regeneration

It’s their thoughts on traffic management that are likely to raise most eyebrows, however. ‘Heavy traffic (particularly lorries and through traffic) is highly detrimental’ they say, ‘and the main roads create significant physical barriers within the most sensitive historic areas of Hastings. Especially problematic is the A259 on the Bourne and Seafront; but the A21 and A2101 are unfriendly to pedestrians and encourage people to drive into the town centre and to park along the seafront.

The Country Park – ‘starkly beautiful’

‘The heritage would benefit significantly from a reduction in through traffic on these roads, and from parking on the sea front being reduced in favour of the town centre.’

The consultants are also clear on the value of the Country Park, an area that has caused a lot of bad feeling from local residents. They describe it as ‘starkly beautiful and ecologically significant’ and recommend that HBC should ‘manage (it) to national Green Flag standards, and seek national and international grant funding to secure its long-term management.’ If adopted, would this ever lead to the reunification of the East Hill with the rest of the country park? Landslips and planning matters around ‘The Bunker’ are not raised in the report.

Photo: Bob Okines.

‘The Bunker’ on East Hill (Photo: Bob Okines)

Cllr Dawn Poole, lead member for culture at the council, is pleased with the report.

“The aim of the heritage strategy is to identify the heritage of the town in the broadest sense, including built, natural, archaeological, material and intangible. It then assesses its significance, and suggests means and priorities for conserving and sustaining it in support of the culture-led regeneration strategy and in the context of the wider economic and cultural regeneration of Hastings.

Cllr Poole – ‘All comments will be considered’

“A lot of work has gone into developing this strategy . . and we are very keen to hear feedback on it. All comments will then be considered and, where appropriate, incorporated into the final strategy, which will be agreed at a cabinet meeting later in the summer.”

What do I think? The analysis and recommendation in the report are, for the most part, bang-on. It will be interesting indeed to see whether the council have the stomach for a fight with the car lobby but, even if they haven’t, there is much herethat is sensible and shrewd.

Heritage cars 3

‘Two wheels good, four wheels bad?’ Pedal power in action on the front at St Leonards (Photo: TS)

Hastings is a historical and heritage goldmine, with a vibrant cultural life and an approach to life that is both steadfastly traditional and, at the same time, brilliantly eccentric. So it’s a real shame that it is not perceived as the jewel in the crown, rather than the hole in the doughnut, of 1066 Country.

It’s all about resources and priorities, of course. Many would argue, reasonably enough, that jobs, housing and social services should take priority over heritage protection. But preserving and promoting local heritage, especially when it is as rich as it is in Hastings and St Leonards, can be a real draw for inward investment through tourism, not to mention the feelgood factor and civic pride it brings for all-year-round residents.

The Drury McPherson report suggests a vision for the town: ‘Hastings – a proudly independent, diverse, historic and beautiful maritime town at the heart of 1066 Country.’ And that’s a very worthy aim, I would suggest.

But it’s your opinions that HBC need to hear. How? You can provide your comments by emailing them or in writing to:

Democratic Services
Muriel Matters House (formerly Aquila House)
Breeds Place
East Sussex
TN34 3UY

The closing date for comments is Friday 28th April.

Posted 15:29 Tuesday, Apr 4, 2017 In: Home Ground


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  1. Joan Hall

    I’m disabled. I can walk a little bit not far. Over the last few years parking for the disabled has been made far harder. Places that I used to be able to park are now No Waiting zones all around town. Pedestrian areas are a no go and in the car parks I now have to pay if there are no disabled spaces available and I have to park in an ordinary bay. I no longer visit the town as it is so disabled unfriendly, I now do all my shopping online. Even in Priory Meadow, which I now is not council, disabled bays are now ‘Disabled or Mother & Child so effectively anybody can park in them.

    Comment by Joan Hall — Friday, Apr 7, 2017 @ 07:08

  2. Angela Gardner

    I definitely think that the traffic in the town and old town can be horrendous and alternative parking facilities must be met urgently! Since the traffic lights have been placed at the end of RockaNore rd they have caused tremendous traffic problems in the old town, with cars being held up for half an hour or more trying to exit the car park and I think a mini roundabout would be more useful! An out of town car park with a park and ride scheme would be so much better for the town in general! The buses in town would be able to get around faster with more bus lanes in busy areas.

    Comment by Angela Gardner — Thursday, Apr 6, 2017 @ 20:18

  3. Ms. Doubtfire

    Not sure I understand Bea Roger’s reasoning here: as most staff are in their offices during the day there is little need for cars during this period.

    If you banish all car parking from the seafront you will only succeed in driving visitors away from the town. I think far too much is being made of the car parking situation – the main problem here are the charges. Exhorbitant in the extreme. And if you banish cyclists you are actually doing a grave injustice to the environment. Cyclists and pedestrians need to respect each others space. If you banish cylists from the promenade where are they supposed to cycle?
    Of far more importance is the need to protect our historic environment in this town. Lose this and you lose what makes this town so special.

    Comment by Ms. Doubtfire — Thursday, Apr 6, 2017 @ 11:35

  4. Bea Rogers

    Transport issues are certainly crucial and much more thought needs to be given to pedestrians. Many junctions are not pedestrian-friendly, especially on the sea front. Pavements and the promenade need to be kept pedestrian-only, and provision for cyclists should be separate.
    There will always be a need for cars for local people but they do not need to be one per household. The co-wheels car club in the town (2 cars in Russell St)could be far better used, and if they are then co-wheels can put cars in other locations.
    Hastings Council has a role to play here: they were supposed to be encouraging their own staff to use these cars, which are convenient for the Town Hall and Aquila House, but they have not done so. This is probably yet another victim of staff cuts. Come on HBC: use the car club for staff transport around town. This will also cut commuter car journeys into the town since staff would not need their own cars during the day.

    Comment by Bea Rogers — Thursday, Apr 6, 2017 @ 09:30

  5. Ms. Doubtfire

    All residents should read this lengthy report. It contains many historical facts which make for interesting reading.
    The report focusses on no less than 22 recommendations and these are conveniently listed at the start of this report:

    However,this comprehensive report is critical on many points most noticeably regarding the preservation of Historic buildings and important sites and the need to take appropriate action to secure the future of the scheduled and listed buildings at risk and in the council’s ownership.

    Ironically, Recommendation No.12 states that the Council should manage Hastings Country Park Nature Reserve to national Green Flag standard and seek appropriate national and international grant funding to secure its long term management! Strangely there is no mention of the major landlip which necessitated the closure of Eccelesbourne Glen. Or the local outcry over the erection of the infamous ‘bunker’ on the Rocklands caravan park site accompanied by the loss of trees.
    The majority of these recommendations commence with the statement that the council ‘SHOULD….(do this and that).
    All sound advice but whether the council will action these recommendations remains to be seen.

    Comment by Ms. Doubtfire — Wednesday, Apr 5, 2017 @ 13:06

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