Hastings & St. Leonards on-line community newspaper

Community Planning for the future…

Central St Leonards could soon see significant improvements in the area rippling out from major property refurbishments in a core group of streets, residents heard this weekend at a community planning consultation. Richard Hull went along to find out what Community Planning is all about…

There was good attendance for the St Leonards Coastal Space Community Planning Weekend at the Magnet on London Road, Friday 20 and Saturday 21 January, and local residents engaged in numerous activities including a walk-about through the core target zone, bounded by Kenilworth Road, Pevensey Road and Silchester Road, labelled The Seven Streets. By the end of May this year local residents should be able to view an example refurbished house on Kenilworth Road.

Organisers estimated that over two hundred residents had at least some involvement in the consultation event, ranging from discussions with organisers on London Road outside the venue to full attendance at both days. Responses to the initiative were reported to be overwhelmingly positive with a number of residents willing to translate their enthusiasm into active involvement in the initiative.

Central to the scheme is Local Space, a housing association with a five year record of urban regeneration in East London where they have attracted considerable admiration from tenants, some of whom attended the St Leonards event. In addition the Gensing and Central St Leonards Community Forum, who helped organise the weekend’s event, visited East London last year and spoke with many tenants.  The strategy in St Leonards, in partnership with Hastings Borough Council, is to purchase properties in the Seven Streets either on the open market or through Council-instigated compulsory purchase orders such as for the derelict St Marys nursing home. Local Space told residents at the weekend’s event that they are initially planning to refurbish 20-30 properties but are hoping to increase their holdings. Local Space will not, however, be managing the letting of the properties which will be managed by local housing associations such as AmicusHorizon, who had several representatives at the event.

Ripple effects

The ‘ripple effect’ of wider economic and social regeneration was the subject of sustained discussion during the weekend, with a broad range of ideas such as a ‘gateway’ at the bottom of London Road to attract those passing along the seafront, market stalls on the promenade, changing the railway station to ‘St Leonards On Sea’, improvements to the area surrounding the station and leading down to the front, heritage trails, and a bandstand in Warrior Square and other ideas for developing and supporting venues for live music.

Some readers might argue that many of these ideas have cropped up over the years but with little apparent progress. However, Bob Young, Chief Executive of Local Space, spelt out their plan to establish with HBC and other relevant local stakeholders a new organisation focused on further socio-economic regeneration in St Leonards. One suggested task for this body is to purchase properties that combine commercial and residential space, such as shops with flats above. These would again be refurbished and rented out, with possible subsidised rents to current and new local businesses.

Further evidence of a commitment to taking concrete steps forward came from one of the workshops which produced a set of action commitments. Reports on these commitments will be presented at the follow-up meeting on Thursday 9th February, 7pm, at the Magnet, Christ Church Courtyard, London Road, TN37 6GL.

Links: Local Space, Gensing & Central St Leonards Community Forum, Hastings Borough Council, the former St Mary’s Nursing Home, John Thompson & Partners urban planners.

For more information, contact Ieva Ansaberga, John Thompson & Partners, 020 7017 1780,

Posted 20:43 Sunday, Jan 22, 2012 In: Home Ground

1 Comment

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