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Chris Lewcock, centre, addresses the crowd of some 80 people who turned out for the walkabout of the White Rock and Bohemia areas organised by HUDG (photo: Julia Hilton).

Chris Lewcock, centre, addresses the crowd of some 80 people who turned out for the walkabout of the White Rock and Bohemia areas organised by HUDG (photo: Julia Hilton).

Large turn-out for area action plan walkabouts

Walkabouts of the town centre and White Rock in connection with the council’s Area Action Plan attracted large numbers of interested residents. A further walkabout is planned for this weekend, while the deadline for submitting comments on the plan is this coming Monday. Nick Terdre reports.

The walkabouts organised last week by Hastings Urban Design Group proved much more popular than the group expected, drawing some 40 people to the town centre tour and around 80 for the White Rock and Bohemia leg.

“The turn-out shows what a thirst there is in Hastings for people to be involved in the design of the future of their town,” Tim Jemison, chair of HUDG, commented.

The town centre and White Rock Area Action Plan (AAP) will guide the development of these core parts of Hastings for the next 15 years. The proposals for fundamental changes in the White Rock and Bohemia areas are clearly more contentious, which is probably why greater numbers attended this walk.

Station Plaza - one of the stops on the town centre walkabout (photo: Tim Jemison).

Station Plaza – one of the stops on the town centre walkabout (photo: Tim Jemison).

“It was shocking how few people knew anything about these proposals, which will have huge implications for the town, in particular the green spaces of the White Rock and Bohemia, where there are plans to build up to 500 houses north of Bohemia Road as well as a new leisure centre and upgrading of facilities in the park,” said Julia Hilton, a landscape architect and HUDG member.

Stops were held on each walk at which the crowd was addressed variously by Jemison, Hilton and another HUDG colleague, Chris Lewcock, who drew attention to what was planned for that spot or how relevant features such as views to the sea or the castle might be affected.

Greenway walk Hastings Greenway Group is holding its own walkabout on Saturday 22 September, with the aim of assessing the AAP’s implications for walking and cycling facilities. Participants are asked to assemble at Sussex Coast College in Station Plaza at 2pm. The walk will go up Braybrooke Road and Holmesdale Road to the existing Briscoe Gardens greenway, back through Summerfields Woods and Falaise Gardens to the sea-front, and returning to Station Plaza via Robertson Street and Middle Street, along the proposed town centre greenway section.

“We will also be discussing the importance of integrating these routes into the proposed Area Action Plan for the town centre,” the group says.

Simon addresses the gathering in the chapel (photo: Bernard McGinley).

Simon addresses the gathering in the chapel (photo: Bernard McGinley).

An unexpected pleasure lay in wait towards the end of the White Rock walk when the gates to the convent site opened and we were allowed into the chapel. Here Simon Wentworth, a representative of Stars Football Academy, which has acquired the site, explained that it was already in use as an elite football academy.

There were no plans for house-building though the chapel might be developed as an arts centre in the future, he said. (The AAP talks of a possible “mixed residential development” on the former playing fields in the north of the site, and the establishment of arts and educational facilities in the convent buildings.)

Vox populi

During the walkabouts the HUDG team noted down various observations about the AAP proposals from members of the public. With respect to the town centre, these included:

  • How difficult it is to walk easily across town – narrow pavements in bad repair, few drop kerbs and lack of key signage
  • Very little green – we need more trees and planting
  • Need to encourage conversion of first and above floors into living spaces – there are many empty properties
  • Lack of joined-up thinking for all forms of transport, particularly for walkers
  • Station Plaza is a terrible pedestrian experience – no sense of where the sea is when arriving by train
  • Do we need all this new retail space? Our town centres need to be more focused around a social culture, not a shopping culture.

Comments on White Rock and Bohemia included the following:

  • We need housing and the plan is attractive. We need to support the council to provide properly affordable housing
  • We need to make sure all the homeless are housed using empty properties in town before building on greenfield sites
  • This is a conservation area so current plans will fall foul of this
  • Essential that a design and planning forum is set up, open to local people and key civic groups, to influence and co-design proposals
  • There are 1,500 kids around the area of Horntye Park – we need to ensure there is space for them to be active
  • Some people are happy to see houses built north of Bohemia Road as long as all of Summerfield Wood was protected and all the mature trees across the site
  • Key views should be protected, for example across to Hastings Castle from the top of White Rock Gardens and from the Oval.

Only one councillor was spotted on HUDG’s walkabouts – Andy Batsford of St Helen’s ward. However the council tells HOT they had their own tour of the areas, though by bus.


The public consultation on the AAP runs until 4pm on Monday 24 September. You can respond online via this link (registration required). Alternatively you can fill in paper forms which can be downloaded from the same link (scroll down to list of Consultation Documents) or picked up from the Tourist Information Office or Community Contact Office: these should be scanned/emailed back, posted or delivered by hand to Muriel Matters House.

Comments must relate to the questions asked in the AAP document. These mainly concern specific sections of the plan, but general comments about the vision and objectives can be made in response to Question 1 (page 10) .


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Posted 12:34 Friday, Sep 21, 2018 In: Home Ground


Please read our comment guidelines before posting on HOT

  1. Mr Hippolyte Grigg

    BEWARE!! Councils, and Planners within, don’t, as a rule, really care about what people think.I’ve seen this so many times in South London so why should it be any different here. Hastings has become a hotch-potch of architecture as a result. Protect its integraty I say.

    Comment by Mr Hippolyte Grigg — Monday, Oct 1, 2018 @ 13:00

  2. Beth Woolf

    I’d love to know the demographic of those attending these walk abouts in terms of age, ethnicity, socioeconomic groups etc… I don’t mean this in a disrespectful way as I am grateful for the efforts of the HUDG to translate the (deliberately?) inaccessible and dry consultation carried out by Hastings Borough Coucnil on this AAP BUT 40 people doesn’t sound like very many in a town as diverse and big as Hastings. Why do we not spend time to reach out to EVERYONE to be TRULY INCLUSIVE rather than expecting them to stop their day / come to meetings to comment on this. I think there is a missed opportunity not using digital more to engage with the town as well as these meetings to gather a true cross section of views. Has anyone been to schoolsto talk about this to young people ?? After all, it will be their neighbourhood by the time it’s actually complete

    Comment by Beth Woolf — Thursday, Sep 27, 2018 @ 14:39

  3. Sunbear

    Councillors did have a tour….by bus!!!! Says it all really.

    Comment by Sunbear — Wednesday, Sep 26, 2018 @ 23:24

  4. Hastings Greenway Group

    Great article, Nick.
    Thank you for also mentioning our own walk, Saturday, 2PM at Station Plaza

    Comment by Hastings Greenway Group — Saturday, Sep 22, 2018 @ 12:43

  5. Bernard McGinley

    Other observations included the proposed new hotel at the Clambers playground site, and also that White Rock Gardens was used by many people, despite Council suggestions otherwise (as there are so many Houses in Multiple Occupation [HMOs] in the area). The need to preserve the green spaces that define St Leonards and Hastings was repeatedly mentioned
    Any endorsement of the AAP as it stands wasn’t noticed.
    Surely ‘key views’ include sea views, from the Oval and White Rock Gardens to the sea? Horntye and Summerfields also deserve better (and the Convent) than what is proposed here.
    Being a Conservation Area has usually carried little weight with the HBC Planning Department: time for that to change, and for the Council to realise that these are special places, deserving of protection and TLC — not heavy-duty excavators and JCBs.

    Comment by Bernard McGinley — Friday, Sep 21, 2018 @ 19:21

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