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Illustrative plan for turning Hastings into a garden town (image: ESCC).

Hastings connected consultations

East Sussex County Council, our transport authority, is planning for the future with its Local Transport Plan 4 (LTP4), while Town Deal money is going to be invested in transforming Hastings Town Centre, as shown above. ESCC are consulting us for our opinions on both.  Anna Sabin of Hastings Sustainable Transport Forum reports.

Under plans developed to transform Hastings into a Garden Town, the pedestrianised Town Centre is to become slightly more pedestrianised with nicer paving and plants. Then other money from Levelling Up sources may be invested in making better use of the station forecourt, Queensbury House, Priory Street and Priory Quarter, including the multi-storey car park.

At the same time, Stagecoach, the bus company which runs our local buses, is looking to invest in new electric buses for towns which give them less congested routes to run on. 

It would be clever if Hastings residents and businesses were to take advantage of this confluence and respond to both consultations with an eye to making the town lovely and healthy to live in and a 21st century tourist destination — rich in things to see and do but also clean, bright and easy to get to and through . . . mostly without a car.

Arup, the consultants appointed to turn the original Garden Town proposals into an outline plan for public consultation, have produced a brochure of an imagined Hastings future with a park for Town Centre, full of naturally planted flowerbeds spilling onto marble-white paving. People are pictured walking and cycling about without a care. It looks like a gorgeous place to shop and meet friends and, at the right time of year, mix it with a walk to the beach and a swim – the sort of place you’d be proud to live in or come to on holiday and stay a while.

Part of Arup’s vision for Hastings town centre.

The picture on the front cover Arup’s brochure shows the full expanse of the space. It looks south from the bottom of Havelock Road, and shows Hastings Town Centre Public Realm and Green Connections project as a post-car paradise of walking, wheeling and cycling with buses and trains cleverly bringing us to it but not by driving through it. The distances are the same as ever – no further to walk to bus stop, Station or car park but very much more pleasurable.
 
Rethinking traffic flows
 
If the front cover vision is what we want, then some extra thought must go into traffic flow. So far, there are plans for the bus route to the Station to run one-way – south between the Odeon and the Town Hall, de-pedestrianising it, past Café Nero and up Havelock Road. This doesn’t remove traffic but displaces traffic northward, away from Harold Place. The brochure front cover shows no buses and no out-size delivery lorries driving over the new paving either. 
 

Hastings Town Centre Public Realm and Green Connections with proposed bus routes by Hastings Sustainable Transport Forum.

Better would be to route the buses and lorries round the outside with unloading bays and bus stops within easy reach. For people with luggage, shopping or just not up for the walk, a light electric shuttle, golfbuggy-style, could run ceaselessly between seafront and station.
 

A light electric shuttle could move people with luggage or shopping between station and seafront.

For lorries, unloading bays at the top of Havelock Road and opposite Wellington Square would get them close enough to their destinations to drive a pallet trolley the last remaining yards to delivery.
 
For buses going east, there could be a two-way route from the Station to Devonshire Road, South Terrace, Queens Road and Albert Place to the A259. And west-bound buses could use the Cambridge Gardens-Priory Street loop as the end point of their Bohemia Road route with stops just below the Station Forecourt.
 
Bus stops are, and would be, within a hundred yards of the centre – at Queens Road near M&S, on the seafront, on Cambridge Road, Cornwallis Terrace and Devonshire Road.
 
Taxi ranks, orange on the design-map, would not have to be moved far from Havelock Road.
 
Looking to Paris
 
Paris has removed more than half of its on-street parking and used the freed curbside for cycle lanes, bus lanes and park-like shopping streets. In the same spirit, the map of Proposed Bus Routes, above, removes surface parking from the Station Forecourt and puts the bus bays there instead. Why? Then a person arriving by train can walk out of the station into a green forecourt garden on smooth well signposted paths, turn west along Cornwallis Terrace towards the Museum or cross only two lanes of bus road to either Queens Square or Havelock Road – much more of an incentive to be a train traveller instead of a car driver than the bleak concrete and tarmac we have now.
 

Hastings Smart Transport Network – design by Hastings Sustainable Transport Forum.

To spread the love and make more people more mobile, able to get to where they need to go for education, work and pleasure, and to make our streets pleasant to be in again, we could also give some road space to bikes and buses. Cars are great but not everywhere and not for everything. 
 
HSTF’s Smart Transport Network is a Hastings road use re-design – the red network is through routes for cars, vans and lorries. All the rest of the roads are access only. You can drive to anywhere but, to drive on from there, you have to return to the red through-route you came from. The green network is made of proposed bus routes. Paris, Hackney, Waltham Forest, Birmingham…they’re all doing it. 
 
If Hastings were to follow suit, the efficiency and frequency of buses would so improve that more people would find the bus the best way to get to town and the bus services would become more profitable and be worth investing in. If cycle lanes and greenways were built, journeys now made by space-hogging cars could be made by bike. 
 
And to make the circle ever more virtuous – Shopping Streets do better without cars. People stay longer and spend more. As well as the Town Centre, Hastings has several Victorian shopping streets made unpleasant to linger in because of car traffic and parked cars. If car traffic (accept for access) could be kept out of Queens Road south of Morrisons (and out of London Road south of Asda), then unimpeded buses could bring shoppers to and fro, walkers and cyclists could be safe and at ease, better walking pavements and crossings could make urban walking a pleasure again rather than a chore and those old commercial roads could find themselves thriving again.
 
Tell ESCC what you’d like. Respond to LPT4 here (the deadline is Sunday 25 February) and on the Town Centre here (deadline Friday 1 March). Don’t hold back!
 
See Hastings Sustainable Transport Forum advice on the LTP4 consultation here.

 

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Posted 21:19 Sunday, Feb 18, 2024 In: Transport

4 Comments

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  1. Richard Heritage

    You are quite right DAR, Queensbury House is a awful blot on the landscape. And you don’t hear of HBC putting any pressure on the freeholder to do anything about it. Probably because the current listed owner Timona Properties is a listed offshore company in Jersey C.I. and British Virgin Islands. A more or less untouchable company though the director is UK based. Hitting them with an Enforcement Order might end up an expensive litigation ordeal. There was an attempt to sell it last year by Savills but nobody wants this carbuncle.

    Comment by Richard Heritage — Tuesday, Feb 27, 2024 @ 09:23

  2. Catherine Charlton

    Any development to increase use of public transport and reduce car travel needs first to address the unreliability of both the buses and recently trains. Contracts with bus companies need to have penalties for cancelling buses and generally misleading passengers because of the crazy way their electronic noticeboard system works deluding passengers into believing there is a bus only for it to show cancelled at the very last moment.

    Comment by Catherine Charlton — Saturday, Feb 24, 2024 @ 21:05

  3. DAR

    Surely, Queensbury House has got to go – it’s a horrible sight to see coming out of the station.

    Comment by DAR — Thursday, Feb 22, 2024 @ 10:16

  4. Philip Oakley

    Regards electric buggy idea; there was a seafront pedicab service several years ago that sadly ran into problems with the Council licensing department, but was essentially a very nice idea only lacking electrified bikes as it was too hard to cycle against the wind. Hybrid pedicabs on the seafront also coming into the Town Centre would be a great addition to the tourist experience and garden town development. Relatively cheap to deliver via a private operator.

    Comment by Philip Oakley — Sunday, Feb 18, 2024 @ 22:57

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