Redevelopment of former Hastings Observer building to go ahead as plans are approved
Hastings Borough Council, under delegated authority, granted permission to the building’s owners White Rock Neighbourhood Ventures (WRNV) on Friday (September 18).
WRNV have owned the building since February 14, 2019, and are hoping to turn it into their second community hub in the town centre, along with Rock House, which is located next to the old Observer building.
The planning permission allows for a change of use, a two-storey replacement roof extension and a full refurbishment of the existing building.
Under WRNV’s plans, the building, located in Cambridge Road, will provide a mixed-use redevelopment which includes space for retail, offices, a microbrewery, 15 residential units, event and gym space, and management accommodation.
The plans also include external alterations, cycle storage and other associated works.
The works are expected to begin early next year and will likely continue until March 2022.
Jess Steele, project director at WRNV, said: “The Observer Building has suffered 35 years of dereliction, speculation and extraction. This is the first time it has had a deliverable planning permission and the resources in place to deliver it. There is still a long way to go but it’s going to happen.“
The project has also been boosted by a £2m grant from Historic England which will be used to rejuvenate the America Ground, which stretches from Harold Place up to the Trinity Triangle and the old Observer building.
That money has been awarded to Heart of Hastings Community Land Trust (CLT) – an initiative to safeguard living and work space – who will be leading the project to improve that part of Hastings town centre. Through that project, the Hastings CLT will be working alongside WRNV to redevelop the former Observer building.
David Bysh, trustee of Heart of Hastings and WRNV, said: “Heart of Hastings is thrilled that renovating this long neglected building will now start early next year.
“We are one big stride closer to providing affordable homes and repurposed space for businesses and bringing it all into community ownership forever.”
The former Hastings Observer building has been empty since 1985. In the 35 years since, it has had 14 different owners and a number of different planning applications have been submitted.