Exciting plans unveiled for future of old Hastings Observer building

Plans are moving ahead for the future of the old Hastings Observer building in Cambridge Road.

It will continue the transformation of the iconic town centre building from a derelict wreck into a valuable community asset the town can be proud of.

Plans for its future were updated by Hastings Commons CEO Dr Jess Steele at a recent presentation, which also saw the launch of the newly published book ‘Back From The Brink’.

The book, which has many contributions from local people, charts the evolution of the building from the time it was at the heart of a thriving newspaper industry, to becoming abandoned and derelict and the ongoing work to restore it.

Jess Steele said: “We had to mortgage Rock House in order to buy this derelict wreck and have spent a quarter of a million pounds just to repair the building structure. We had no idea where the money was coming from, but thankfully people believed in us. We now have money for the roof repairs and hope to have a public roof garden open.

"The scaffolding will come down in May and we will have a big celebration for that. This is the 100th birthday of this grand old lady which has laid derelict and dormant for 40 years and had 13 different owners in that time.

"This has been an amazing voyage – an incredible journey. The staff at Hastings Commons have been amazing. It is a new way of addressing community participation

“The building is not just my obsession, but the town’s obsession. The new book is important for the same reason the building is important. It is part of our local inheritance. It was community protests which stopped this building from being demolished. We stand on the shoulders of giants.”

Other plans for the future of the building include affordable housing, artist’s studios and community space. The building already has a successful restaurant operating on its ground floor and has become a venue for a number of exhibitions and craft markets.

The presentation also revealed plans for Trinity Triangle this year, the area which the Observer building is closely associated with. These include an ongoing project by local artist Emma Harding to display visual images of local people’s memories on tiles to create a mural. There is also a musical production underway which tells the social history of The America Ground.

Related topics: