Hastings & St. Leonards on-line community newspaper

The Trinity Triangle Heritage Action Zone will see £2m funding to regenerate the local area.

Trinity Triangle receives £2m for Heritage Action Zone

Local community groups are asked to come forward with their ideas for the Trinity Triangle, also known as America Ground, following Historic England’s award of £2m to be invested in buildings, public spaces and creative projects. Vicky Huggins reports.

The government funding, which Historic England has awarded to local communities across England, will help the area recover from declining footfall and the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic.

In Hastings the High Street Heritage Action Zone (HAZ) will see multiple community groups and local businesses receive much needed funds distributed by Heart of Hastings (HoH).

HoH is working with Project Art Works, White Rock Neighbourhood Ventures (WVRN), Jericho Road Solutions, Hastings Voluntary Network, Hastings Community Network and others to deliver the venture.

Challenging times

With a four-year timescale, HAZ was set to go ahead before the global pandemic hit, but all planning has been done within Covid-19 restrictions. 

“We didn’t know if this would be a good time to talk to people about heritage and culture, when there are other, such pressing concerns,” said Tina Chang, who is the Project Coordinator for HAZ. “What we’ve found is that people recognise that it is more important than ever to provide support to communities, to the high street and to small businesses that are at the forefront of so many challenges.”

Under normal circumstances, HoH would have organised public meetings and canvassed people’s opinions in the streets, but with current restrictions is reaching out to people through local media, flyers and a website.

Tina added, “We’re working on finding as many ways as possible to engage with people safely and would urge anyone interested to get in touch with us.”

The Heritage Action Zone will see repairs to architecture and improvements to local spaces as part of plans to revive the area.

As well as plans to improve the appearance of the buildings and the accessibility of the area, HoH wants residents and local people to shape their neighbourhood and its identity.

Caoimhe O’Gorman, Engagement Manager at HoH, said: “There are issues there and there’s a lot that can be done. There is a lot to be uncovered in terms of heritage and architecture.”

“Hastings has an independent spirit, but it’s quite obvious that the community is really engaged,” she added.

There are three grants available under the scheme: the Built Fabric grant, Funding for Social Spaces and Neighbourhood Stories. The grants have different match requirements and run for the four years of the programme.

Local businesses can apply for Build Fabric grants, to preserve and  renovate the exterior of buildings. Funding for Social Spaces is for projects that seek to improve public spaces. The Neighbourhood Stories grant is for groups with creative projects that give a voice to people or groups of people that may go unheard in traditional histories.

Beginning phases

Project Art Works (PAW) has launched Untold Stories, a Neighbourhood Stories project. Stories, photographs, personal memories and creative responses submitted will be included in the group’s blog and in a one-off publication. 

Sally Bourner, PAW’s Gallery & Project Coordinator told HOT: “We’ve had some amazingly insightful responses to the project, including photos of past events in Gotham Alley, memories from buildings’ previous identities and even three sculptures made from the original stone facade from Hastings Library.”

Passersby can see installations originally exhibited at the Tate Liverpool in the window of 12 Claremont, the future residence of Project Art Works.

PAW will also curate the HAZ’s cultural pilot programme, working with representatives from cultural organisations and local businesses to shape a music event. The project invites the local community to participate in a musical piece responding to the Trinity Triangle. This will culminate in a live performance by the local community or a digital event, depending on Covid restrictions.

PAW is set to open an art gallery called Untitled at 12 Claremont Place, which will receive HoH funding for live work spaces in the upper levels. 

In addition, HAZ has provided significant funding for the regeneration of the Observer Building, which two weeks ago received final planning permission

The funding will enable five floors of the building to be completed. The first phase, which includes the ground floor, first floor, mezzanine level, the exterior and the roof will start in January 2021 and be completed by March 2022. 

David Bysh, Trustee, HoH and WRNV, the group behind developing the Observer Building, said: “Heart of Hastings is thrilled that renovating this long neglected building will now start early next year. We are one big stride closer to providing affordable homes and repurposed space for businesses and bringing it all into community ownership forever.”

Trinity Triangle

Under the HAZ umbrella, works are scheduled along locally known Gotham Alley, including installing proper drainage and outfitting the caves to make the area more accessible. HoH aims to make the area safer, while retaining its character, including the graffiti and garden space. The alleyway is common ground, meaning it has no private owner.

In addition, local people and artists will be commissioned to decorate and improve Brassey steps, which connect Claremont to Cambridge Road. 

The alley level work and Brassey steps project will be completed by July 2021.

There are a number of vacant buildings, including The Pancake House, Vintage Living and Collared, at Trinity Triangle and Heart of Hastings is looking to identify freeholders and leaseholders.

With ambitions to identify all the freeholders and leaseholders of each building, HoH are also looking to make use of vacant buildings, such as the former Collard shop and its neighbours Vintage Living and The Pancake House. 

Caoimhe told HOT “We’re keen to find out people’s opinions on vacant buildings. With covid and the economic situation we will likely see more of that, but we want to work with local groups looking for temporary occupancy or to do window displays. We want the area to feel attractive so people want to be here.”

Steve Peak, local historian and author of the Hastings Chronicle, said, HAZ is important because it aims to both preserve and improve an important part of the history of Hastings and St Leonards, and also make it available to a wide range of people.”

Steve, who is writing The Story of the America Ground, added: “Local legend is that the inhabitants of America Ground declared independence from Hastings, but I have found the story is very different from that.”

As well as showcasing the area’s history and stories, making repairs to local buildings and launching a creative programme, HoH has plans to upgrade street signage and improve accessibility, making the area more open to residents and visitors. This would see street furniture installed and make road usage clearer.

“We want people to shape the area and really have a sense of the place, what it is and why it is good,” Caoimhe added. “The strength is in the people.”

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Posted 21:37 Thursday, Oct 1, 2020 In: Home Ground


Please read our comment guidelines before posting on HOT

  1. Passing By

    @H Grigg
    That’s a lovely idea
    Thank you!
    I doubt that heritage rules will allow the demolition
    however perhaps the faithful will help the meek by approving interior renovations of a minimum of four large social housing flats

    Comment by Passing By — Saturday, Oct 10, 2020 @ 14:05

  2. H Grigg

    Pull down that carbuncle of a church and build social housing in its place.

    Comment by H Grigg — Tuesday, Oct 6, 2020 @ 10:50

  3. Passing By

    “There are a number of vacant buildings, including The Pancake House, Vintage Living and Collared, at Trinity Triangle and Heart of Hastings is looking to identify freeholders and leaseholders.”
    in charge of 2million quid and they don’t know the owners of the buildings!

    Comment by Passing By — Saturday, Oct 3, 2020 @ 14:17

  4. passing by

    oh dear god
    another art gallery

    Comment by passing by — Saturday, Oct 3, 2020 @ 13:03

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