It’s official Hastings Old Town has been crowned Britain’s Best Walking Neighbourhood and it has won the accolade by a decisive margin.
More than 12,000 votes were cast in total for the ten areas of the UK fighting it out to win this new award and Hastings Old Town secured 21 per cent of the total vote, more than 2,500 votes.
It was the Ramblers Association – now just known as Ramblers – that decided to make an award to find the very best urban area for going about everyday life on foot. Once the ten areas had beens elected the public were asked to vote and Hastings came out on top.
Anthony Slack, long-time Hastings Old Town resident, was one of those who nominated the Old Town for the award, he said at the time: “Whether it’s simply to visit local shops and restaurants, to go to the doctors’ surgery or to the local cinema or theatre, or just to admire our historic buildings, walking is usually the best way to do it in Hastings Old Town.
“The well maintained green spaces, the sea views, and the pleasant places to stop for a rest and to socialise, all combine to make Hastings Old Town a fantastic, walkable community. We’re delighted that the Old Town has been crowned as Britain’s Best Walking Neighbourhood.”
A spokesman for Ramblers said the streets of Hastings Old Town really were made for walking and several factors contributed to its win. Tye old town grew up before the advent of the car and is well designed for making short journeys on foot. The quaint streets are crisscrossed by narrow twittens, passages developed in Victorian times that today form charming pedestrian routes between the main streets.
But new measures have also been implemented in efforts to prioritise pedestrians, including vehicle restrictions on some streets during certain times, installing and improving paving and widening footways, making the town even easier to navigate on foot.
The awards sparked residents’ pride in the area, with many sharing their love for walking in the town. Hastings Old Town resident Dean Parker said: “I’ve walked in Snowdonia, the lakes, the Scottish Highlands and almost everywhere in between, hankering for these places daily. Yet since living in the Old Town I have no desire to leave. It doesn’t have the drama of the mountains, or the beauty of the northern countryside, but with the sea, the sharp steep steps up into the country park and the wonderful views I have all I need to fulfil my days.”
The Ramblers launched the award to celebrate areas that put pedestrians first. The walking charity hopes the awards will encourage more local authorities to think about how they could make small changes in design to improve walkability, to help improve the health and wellbeing of residents.
If you think your neighbourhood is well-designed for walking, nominations are now open for the 2019 award. Download a nomination form from www.ramblers.org.uk/urbanaward.
The other areas shortlisted for the award were: Dumfries, Scotland, Diglis, Worcester, Worcestershire, Hackney, London, Kirkby Stephen, Cumbria, Newtown, Powys, Wales, Salford, Greater Manchester, Stocksbridge, South Yorkshire, Town Moor, Newcastle and Walthamstow, London.
Look out for further updates and reactions from local people throughout the day.
- The Ramblers helps everyone, everywhere, enjoy walking and protects the places we all love to walk. It is the only charity dedicated to looking after paths and green spaces, leading walks, opening up new places to explore and encouraging everyone to get outside and discover how walking boosts your health and your happiness.