A 12 week consultation process designed to give local people a say in the future of the town came to an end at 4pm yesterday afternoon.
Launched in July Hastings Borough Council (HBC) sought the input of local people in devising it’s ‘action plan’ (AAP) for the how the town should look in 20 years time. The plan focussed on the town centre and White Rock or what has become known as ‘the Bohemia Quarter.’
But there is disappointment that not more people got involved in the process and concerns too about how few people actually seemed to know that the consultation process was underway.
Julia Hilton, a landscape architect and member of Hastings Urban Design Group (HUDC) said: “It was shocking to find out how few people knew anything about these proposals which will have huge implications for the town, in particular the green spaces of the White Rock and Bohemia, where there are plans to build up to 500 houses north of Bohemia Road as well as a new leisure centre.”
More than 120 people turned up for the two town centre walkabouts organised by volunteers from HUDC during September to see what the council’s area action plans would mean on the ground.
Tim Jemison, chair of HUDG, said: “The turn out shows what a thirst there is in Hastings for people to be involved in the design of the future of their town.”
Hastings Town Centre and Bohemia have been identified by HBC as critical to the continued social, economic and cultural regeneration of the borough. It is seen as capable of accommodating the homes as well as jobs and services that are needed to meet local needs and drive future economic growth. The area provides the town’s principal focus for retail, employment, education, leisure, culture and tourism and also faces a number of social, economic and environmental challenges. The are action plan looks to address those issues and to hopefully unlock what has been described as ‘the significant untapped potential’ of the area.
The development of an AAP covering Hastings Town Centre and Bohemia will form the third and final part of the local plan and forms part of the Hastings Planning Strategy (HPS) that sets out the high level strategic vision, policies and overall development numbers. The AAP, once adopted, will take forward the objectives and aspirations of the planning strategy and will provide a framework for development and investment in the town centre and Bohemia.
The actual delivery of action plan is highly dependent on the creation of a number of partnerships and depends too on financial viability and funding being available with HBC, as the planning authority, having a pivotal role to play in the transformation of the area.