Hastings Town Centre Public Realm and Green Connections project

On Tuesday 27th February, members were invited to join Hastings Chamber at Freedom Works to hear about the Hastings Town Centre Public Realm and Green Connections project – one of the seven projects within the Hastings Town Investment Plan, presented by Arup and East Sussex County Council.

This project is one that plans to transform Hastings town centre, complementing its built heritage with multifunctional spaces that will encourage dwell time and promote wellbeing through the widespread application of ecologically rich and biodiverse horticulture.

The proposal includes infrastructure for improved walking and cycling throughout the town, cycle parklets, general enhanced public realm, infrastructure for markets, events and festivals and an interwoven lighting and public art project. Dedicated to sustainable development, Arup, an independent, employee-owned firm of designers, planners, engineers, consultants, and technical specialists, were chosen by East Sussex County Council to take forward the plan and work with partners on this project.

Consultation for this project took place between January and March, as a chance for members of the public to discuss the plans and voice their opinions. With it focussing on the town centre, mainly along Havelock Road, Hastings Area Chamber of Commerce in partnership with LoveHastings.com wanted to give businesses in the local area the chance to hear more about the plan, with the aim to gather feedback from local businesses on the proposed designs and provide space for dialogue and shared understanding.

The budget for the Hastings Town Centre Public Realm and Green Connections project has come from the Town Fund Programme. This is a Central Government initiative for selected local councils to spend on projects that work to regenerate public spaces. Conditions of the fund means that the money cannot be used on things such as housing, potholes, or other areas of the town.

The concept design plans to: bring nature into the town; enhances active travel links; improve arrival experience and intuitive wayfinding; linking the train station to the sea (North-South); linking the town to the castle (East-West); improving existing spaces and establishing a destination; conveying historical narratives.

Areas include:

Havelock Road – Havelock Greenway will incorporate new dedicated cycle infrastructure, rain gardens and tree planting to establish a green and healthy movement corridor at the heart of the town.

The Central Area – This will be a new destination at the heart of the town. At the intersection of multiple routes, a contemporary flexible urban space will be framed by meadow planting, supporting a multitude of uses and activities.

Lost River Park – Natural rockwork and planting that reflect the ‘lost river’ habitats will frame tranquil seating areas, allowing people to experience a landscape reminiscent of the historic riverbanks that used to dominate the area that is now the town centre.

Coastal Link – The Coastal Link will be characterised by vegetated shingle banks that provide a truly unique and playful urban landscape. An interpretative overlay to a resilient palette of coastal plants will tell the story of coastal landscapes and their importance in ensuring a resilient future. Playful features will be integrated within the banks to provide a natural amenity for children’s play.

Wellington Place – Wellington Place is being reimagined as a new destination and public space that seeks to enhance east-west connections across the town and to the Old Town and Castle.

The key challenges towards this project were also discussed which involved the issues with flooding in the town, fundamental changes to transport infrastructure, servicing of local businesses, maintenance strategy, and phased delivery with available funding.

The public consultation period is officially over, with the planning application to be submitted this summer, and plans for construction to start in 2025. You can find out more about the plans by visiting the Hastings Town Deal website or East Sussex County Council’s website.