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The Heart of Hastings CLT Board on the old Hastings power station site in Ore Valley (left to right: Rodney Buse, Tania Charman, Jess Steele OBE and Suzy Tinker)

The Heart of Hastings CLT Board on the old Hastings power station site in Ore Valley (left to right: Rodney Buse, Tania Charman, Jess Steele OBE and Suzy Tinker)

Two ways to warm up Ore Valley this Saturday

For over 40 years the old Broomgrove Power Station site has been left empty and derelict, but in September 2016 the Heart of Hastings Community Land Trust was given a licence on the land to start working with local people to design and create a new kind of development from the bottom up. Erica Smith talks to Jess Steele and others from the Heart of Hastings about the project.

Jess Steele is the project coordinator for the Heart of Hastings Community Land Trust which has been engaging with Ore Valley residents to help plan a new future for the old power station site. I asked her to give me some background to what is happening: “The old power station site has been ‘allocated’ for at least 50 housing units – but we don’t have to put up with the usual private developers squeezing whatever profit they can get”, she said.  “Instead, this can be a community-built site with a mix of housing, workspaces, community facilities, woodland and ecology.”

00hastings_clt_20_lowresHeart of Hastings has already been working on the site. Daniel O’Connor, who grew up in Ore Valley, is lead volunteer for the project. “I’ve seen the power station go from useless relic to dangerous eyesore and then ignored waste ground. I’m excited by the possibilities that the CLT project can bring, greatly benefiting local people.” Having been long-term unemployed, the benefit of being involved with the project, Daniel says, “has been massive. I’ve gained skills and found purpose working with good people on a project I believe in. I’ve grown in confidence, my physical and mental health have improved, and I feel a part of my community.”

00bigdiscussionThere are two events this Saturday, 26 November – a morning event (10am–noon) in The Bridge Community Centre, and an evening event (5–9pm) with a barbecue and music on the old power station site. Both events give people from the community a chance to discuss the site, find out more and share their ideas for how they think the site could best be used. Turner Prize winning architects Assemble will be at both events too.

The Ore Valley project has captured the interest of Assemble, the architects behind the 2015 Turner Prize-winning Granby Four Streets CLT development of housing in a deprived area of Liverpool. As design advisers for the project Assemble will “help us to design a future for another very poor part of the country,” says Jess Steele. Steele herself has a considerable track having earlier this year recieved an OBE for her “services to community assets” following her succesful work on the campaign to rescue Hastings Pier from dereliction, a project for which she managed to raise £11,400,000 of Heritage Lottery Funding.

orevalleyflyernewThe events are also opportunities for people to meet members of the Community Land Trust and to let them know your visions for the future of the site. In the evening there will be free BBQ food and refreshments, a number of woodburners to make sure everyone is warm and a DJ playing some light background music. Energise Sussex Coast will also be on hand to give money-saving energy advice and there will be a chance to meet the Dom’s Food Mission team.

I asked Heart of Hastings Director Tania Charman to explain what a Community Land Trust is: “Community Land Trusts (CLTs) are local organisations set up and run by ordinary people to develop and manage homes as well as other assets important to that community, like community enterprises, food growing or work spaces. The CLT’s main task is to make sure these homes are genuinely affordable, based on what people actually earn in their area, not just for now but for every future occupier.”

She went on to say: “This land has been redundant for 40 years and as a CLT, our work is all about bringing land back into productivity. This site is expected to contribute 50 houses to the Hastings Plan. This is an ambitious project, however we believe our local people deserve and need something special and inspiring after years of failed initiatives and this provides them with a unique opportunity to be in the driving seat of their own regeneration.”

When I asked Jess Steele what is different about Heart of Hastings plans for the area compared to other developers, she said: “We believe that Ore Valley has been let down by regeneration that separates land from people. We think that the derelict land sites should be developed by local people for local benefit. We are inspired by the Organisation Workshop approach pioneered by residents on Marsh Farm estate in Luton and want to use it here. In order to secure funds and permissions needed to forge ahead, the CLT needs your views on what should be developed (e.g. co-ownership housing, small-scale business units and greenway access from Broomgrove to Ore Station). This is truly a ‘bottom-up development’ (BUD) in which local people can get together and make a real difference. There are lots of opportunities to get involved in whatever aspect interests you.”

If you live in the Ore Valley area and feel inspired by this new hope for a forgotten part of your home, then come along to one of the events this Saturday (26 November) to find out how you can be part of exciting plans to share and shape the area.

10am–noon: Big Discussion at Bridge Community Centre, 361 Priory Road  TN34 3NW – please turn up in good time to take part in the talks and planning groups.

5–9pm: Warm up Ore Valley on the Power Station site: entrances in Firtree Road and Broomgrove Road. Please bring warm clothing and suitable footwear as the site is uneven and may be wet. Lighting will be placed around the site but bring a torch if you have one. Because of the BBQ, no dogs are allowed at this event.

You can find out more about the community-friendly architects ASSEMBLE from their website
For more information about Heart of Hastings, visit their website. Watch this space to find out about Heart of Hastings’ plans to offer Community Shares and invite investors to support their plans for the Community Land Trust.

Posted 19:55 Wednesday, Nov 23, 2016 In: Home Ground

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