Hastings & St. Leonards on-line community newspaper

The junction of Junction Road with the A21, where traffic lights are to be installed as part of the completion of the Queensway Gateway Road, which receives £2.5m in the current funding round.

£40m of levelling up monies for Hastings and Rother

Projects to ease Hastings’ housing crisis have been awarded levelling up funding as part of a £20m allocation to the town which also includes £2.5m earmarked for completion of the long-stalled Queensway Gateway Road. A further £20m allocation has been made to finance projects in Rother. Nick Terdre reports.

The £20m allocations to Hastings and Rother have been made under the Levelling Up Partnerships (LUPs) set up with 20 of England’s most deprived towns and areas in March last year. They are intended to “provide bespoke place-based regeneration” in the period to 2025, during which a general election will be fought.

Hastings actually gets to administer about £15m while £5.2m of its allocation goes to East Sussex County Council for spending on Hastings-based projects.

The bulk of Hastings’ allocation is directed towards the housing crisis, including £10.1m to “scale up [the] accommodation programme, create a short-term assessment centre for emergency accommodation and to develop existing private stock or houses in multiple occupation (HMOs),” in the council’s words.

Another £3.7m has been set aside to progress the housing development at the rear of 419-447 Bexhill Road, which will provide 16 energy efficient affordable houses (the original outline planning permission was for seven affordable units). The site was due to be sold off as part of HBC’s plan to avoid bankruptcy. However, it evoked little interest, and the LUP grant gave the council the opportunity to explore other options. Proposals for how to proceed will be put before the next full council meeting, HBC told HOT.

Other investments in Hastings include £818,000 for Project Art Works to provide greater arts access to people with disabilities; and £100,000 for improvements to the Ore Health Centre.

Funding welcomed

“We are really pleased that Hastings has been given this funding to help us address the housing crisis we have in our town,” HBC leader Julia Hilton said. “Funding for other partner projects across the town, including skills, health, culture and better youth provision is also very welcome.”

ESCC’s £5.2m share of Hastings’ allocation will mainly be divided between two projects: £3.4m for developing the Hollington Youth Hub to offer a wide range of health and wellbeing services in partnership with the NHS; and £1.25m to complete the Queensway Gateway Road.

Another £1.25m for the road comes from Rother’s allocation, making a total of £2.5m.

Queeensway Gateway Road

The use of levelling up money for the road scheme came as a surprise. But when asked by the Department for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities (DLUHC), which administers the various levelling up funds, to put forward proposals, ESCC included this in its wishlist.

The road, for which Sea Change Sussex is ESCC’s delivery partner, has been stalled, partly over funding, for several years. News of the grant was welcomed by ESCC leader Keith Glazier, who  said, “We are delighted that DLUHC [the Department for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities] has recognised the importance of this project and the need to complete the road.”

Though not mentioned by the county leader, the grant lessens the risk of the county council having to repay the £10m of Local Growth Fund money so far spent on the road were it not to be completed. HOT has asked ESCC if it requested financial assistance from the DLUHC for this purpose.

Sea Change however told HOT that it had “concerns that the £2.5m falls short of the £3m we recently advised East Sussex County Council may be needed to complete the scheme.”

The project still awaits approvals from the Highways Authority including the issue of a traffic regulation orders, but no ESCC update was reported by the South East Local Enterprise Partnership’s accountability board at its last meeting in February. ESCC declined to give HOT an update on the grounds that it was still awaiting confirmation of the LUP grant.

So whether the project is actually in a position to move ahead, and when it might be completed, is unclear. According to Sea Change, “We’ve progressed approvals as far as is possible without confirmation of further spend from the county council…The ball is in the council’s court, and we’re waiting to hear from them about next steps and timescales.”

Bexhill benefits

Bexhill will be the major beneficiary of Rother’s £20m grant, which includes a £9m investment to build a brand-new King Offa Leisure Centre in the town, allowing more than 50 homes to be built on the existing site, another £5m to build a new Barnhorn Green Health Centre, and £2.1m to improve existing community facilities, including more than £1m to build a new Bexhill Community Hub.

A further £1.7m to will go to support Rother’s tourist economy and £650,000 to improve the energy efficiency and long-term sustainability of Rye leisure facilities.

“This latest funding, as part of the Government’s Levelling Up Partnerships programme, is an amazing investment for our district and will enable us and our partners to make a real difference to people’s lives and futures,” said Rother District Council leader Doug Oliver.

£260,000 of the levelling up monies is earmarked to support high street improvements in Bexhill, Rye, Battle and Hastings.

In addition to the joint funding for the Queensway Gateway Road, Hastings and Rother will each contribute £530,000 to a skills improvement programme to be run by ESCC, the county council told HOT. The lack of local skills was one of the key metrics used to identify both council areas as qualifying for a Levelling Up Partnership.

Elsewhere in Rother ESCC will lead projects involving the Sidley Family Hub and Youth Services (£90,000) and the Youth Service mobile resource bus (£70,000).

Overall investments under the LUP programme total £480m, and go to four areas in Scotland in addition to 20 in England. The DLUHC also points out that Hastings has received nearly £24m from the Towns Fund and £1m from the UK Shared Prosperity Fund, and Rother more than £19m from the Levelling Up Fund. Hastings and Bexhill are also in line to receive £20m each over 10 years as part of the department’s Long-Term Plan for Towns.


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Posted 09:45 Wednesday, Apr 17, 2024 In: Local Economy


Please read our comment guidelines before posting on HOT

  1. Richard Heritage

    Your absolutely correct Nick about the “Road to Nowhere” as I call it. The public money that has been squandered over the years is beyond belief, money down a rat hole. And those at ESCC, Sea Change et al have no awareness of the waste.
    It was 2014 when this road got planning permission, ten years on where is it?
    I wonder if the road surface just due to age will need resurfacing soon after traffic uses it.
    You could run a “Guess that Date” competition on who is nearest to guessing when this will be finally open.

    Comment by Richard Heritage — Sunday, Apr 21, 2024 @ 08:59

  2. Nick

    It will be interesting how much of this new funding will inevitably be wasted by talk and no action, especially concerning the Queensway/Gateway road. Has anyone totted up the millions already wasted on meetings and bickering with no conclusions?

    Comment by Nick — Thursday, Apr 18, 2024 @ 09:48

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