Core Strategy Preferred Approaches
Issues, Problems and Challenges
A changing population
3.1 Population forecasts show that up to 2026 there will be a greater proportion of older people, with particular growth in the 75 and over age group (13.1% in 2026, compared to 9.0% in 2006). This means we need to plan now to provide the housing, health and social provision for older people.
3.2 The 2006 Hastings and Rother Housing Market Assessment stated that “Hastings also attracts young and middle aged singles who are not wedded to progression up the career ladder and attracted by the availability of cheap rented accommodation by the sea”. The very sizeable private rented sector is regarded as both cause and effect of this. This is reflected in the concentrations of economically inactive people in areas dominated by private rented sector accommodation, such as central St Leonards.
Addressing the causes of deprivation
3.3 Hastings is one of the most deprived areas in the South East. Part of the town’s character is that it is such a varied place; some of the most deprived parts of the town sit side by side with better off areas. We need to have a particular focus on addressing the causes of deprivation which result in low skills, poor educational attainment, ill health, poverty, lack of job opportunities, poor quality housing and high crime rates.
Making more of our seaside location
3.4 Our consultations have shown that many local people would like to see the town’s future planning make more of its seaside location. This is part of what makes Hastings special and the challenge is to capitalise on this to enhance the quality of life of local residents, improve the attractiveness of the town to tourists and visitors and support and attract businesses. The seafront area provides potential for change – upgrading and improving accessibility along and to the promenade, finding economic uses for buildings such as the Pier and White Rock Baths3, bringing life to the western end of the seafront through the redevelopment of the old Bathing Pool site, and maximising the potential of the Stade area as a tourism and cultural resource.
Limited space for growth/development
3.5 There is not a lot of land available for development within the town and outward expansion is constrained by protected landscape and countryside such as the Hastings County Park and the High Weald Area Of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB). We are making best use of previously developed land in the urban areas e.g. the Ore Valley Millennium Communities development and the town centre redevelopments. We also need to work closely with neighbouring Rother District Council to make sure the communities of both Hastings and Bexhill benefit from the regeneration of the two towns.
Achieving a step change in the economy
3.6 Our research has shown that we need to achieve a big improvement in the town’s economy if we are to achieve regeneration benefits for everyone. We need to diversify the town’s economic base and reduce its reliance on public sector jobs; support small businesses to set up and grow; get more people into work through skills training and education, and provide better paid jobs. Existing employment areas such as Ponswood and Ivyhouse Lane are not well suited to the needs of modern businesses and we need to plan how these can be renovated and improved, as well as providing major new space in the town centre and the Queensway/A21 economic corridor.
3.7 The main challenges here are:
- to allocate enough land in the right locations to provide for future housing needs and to meet the housing target set out in the South East Plan.
- to address poor housing conditions particularly in Central St Leonards and the town centre where there is a legacy of attractive private rented sector Victorian housing in need of repair and upgrading.
- to increase the supply of affordable housing to help reduce homelessness and address housing need.
- to make best use of previously developed land in the urban area before considering green field sites for housing development
Keeping the special character of the town
3.8 Our seaside location, wooded valleys, varied wildlife, attractive Victorian housing and surrounding Wealden countryside all contribute to the special character of Hastings. Our challenge is to conserve and enhance the best of this and at the same time enable high quality development to meet future needs.
Dealing with climate change
3.9 As a coastal town, we need to plan ahead to deal with the potential impacts of climate change - the risks from flooding now and in the future, the need to reduce carbon emissions through the better design of buildings and reuse of building materials, and the encouragement of development to incorporate on-site renewable energy generation.
Low land values
3.10 Land values in Hastings are generally lower than surrounding areas and the rest of the South East. This can affect the economic viability of development and in turn, developer contributions to affordable housing, transport and community infrastructure. We need to get the balance and flexibility right in terms of securing benefits for the community and promoting the development necessary for the town’s regeneration. We also need to move from a position of being dependent on public investment to underpin regeneration, to a situation where the economy is sufficiently buoyant to attract and retain private investment.
Accessibility and transport
3.11 The local business community consistently point to the need for improvements to the A21 and A259, and the rail links to London and Ashford as being key to making Hastings a more attractive place for businesses to locate in and to operate from. Decisions about trunk road investment and rail improvements are taken at national and regional levels, and we strongly lobby for better links.
3.12 Hastings has relatively low car ownership rates and if regeneration of the town is successful these are likely to rise in the future. This presents challenges about provision of adequate car parking, particularly in the town centre, and how best to promote the alternatives to car use in a way which is equitable and affordable for all sections of the community.
3 White Rock Baths were formerly used as a swimming pool and later as an ice skating rink