Plans to regenerate Hastings town centre may no longer involve the rerouting of buses

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Plans to regenerate Hastings town centre may no longer involve the rerouting of buses, a county council report says.

Next Monday (July 15), Cllr Claire Dowling, East Sussex County Council’s lead member for transport and environment, is set to consider a report on the results of a recent consultation on the Hastings Town Centre Public Realm and Green Connections project.

While still in its design phase, the Towns Fund-backed project is expected to involve the creation of a new cycle route between Hastings Railway Station and the seafront, as well as visual improvements to the surrounding area.

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In all, 972 people responded to the proposals. Around half of these respondents were supportive of the overall scheme, while around a third were not.

Plans for the Hastings Town Centre Public Realm and Green Connections project. Picture: ContributedPlans for the Hastings Town Centre Public Realm and Green Connections project. Picture: Contributed
Plans for the Hastings Town Centre Public Realm and Green Connections project. Picture: Contributed

One element of the proposed scheme saw less support than other parts, however. Initially, it was proposed for Havelock Road and Harold Place to be largely closed off to traffic, with existing bus routes set to be redirected through a currently pedestrianised part of Queens Road instead.

According to the report, this initial proposal sparked concerns about accessibility, pedestrian safety and impact to businesses.

In light of these concerns, council officers are proposing a reworked scheme, known as Option 2, which would see buses retain access to Havelock Road. Other northbound traffic (other than cyclists) would still be barred from using the route, however.

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In a report asking Cllr Dowling to approve this change, a council officer said: “Incorporating Option 2 into the design will ensure that the impacts on bus operations are minimised whilst also improving provision for cyclists and removing northbound general traffic from the Havelock Road/Harold Place corridor.

“In doing so it is recognised that this compromise solution will not be met with complete approval from all key stakeholders. However, pursing this option will still achieve the key business case objectives such as improving the public realm and planting in the town centre thereby creating a greater sense of place in Hastings town centre.

“If Option 2 is taken forward, it is recommended that further options are explored during the next design stage to include planting and sustainable urban drainage along Havelock Road while retaining two-way bus lanes along this corridor, subject to sufficient flexibility in the budget.”

If the change is approved, it will be incorporated (alongside other consultation comments) into the next stage of the project’s design process. As things stand, a planning application is due for submission in September 2024.

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The council says the next stage of the design process will also include continued engagement with key stakeholder groups, including the business community, accessibility groups and transport groups.The Towns Deal delivery deadline for the project is March 2026.