Hastings Planning Strategy Proposed Submission Version

Ended on the 17 August 2012

Chapter 9: The Local Economy


The overarching strategy for employment during the Plan period is set out Chapter 4: Development Strategy and includes Policy DS2: Employment Growth, which sets out the overall employment floorspace target for the period to 2028

The Development Management Plan will include further policies relating to employment development, together with site allocations.


Effective use of existing employment areas

9.1 There are five established industrial estates in Hastings the Castleham, Churchfields, Ponswood, Ivyhouse Lane and West Ridge/Ashdown estates. New floorspace has also recently been developed along the Queensway Employment Corridor with more planned.

(1)9.2 Office accommodation is set to grow in Hastings Town Centre, with new floorspace already successfully let in the Priory Quarter area – in One Priory Square and Lacuna Place. There are smaller concentrations of floorspace in employment related uses, located outside of the main five estates and Hastings town centre, throughout the town. All of these areas play an important role in providing business locations and employment opportunities for local firms and are sustainable in overall terms, being within the built up area, and offer the opportunity for local people to work close to where they live. Our strategy is to maintain and where possible, grow these areas as locations for new businesses and those needing to expand. However, as explained in the Development Strategy chapter, there will be a need for more employment space beyond this, which will be met through the planned development outside the borough boundary at North East Bexhill.

9.3 Within Hastings, allocated sites in the main employment areas (primarily at Churchfields) have the scope to add some 17,500m² of new floorspace up to 2028. This could accommodate higher quality unit development, ranging from small start-up to larger units. We envisage that these sites will be brought forward by the private sector over the lifetime of the plan.

(1)9.4 There is also scope to provide new floorspace through the redevelopment of outdated industrial premises. To encourage renewal and attract commercial investment (with better returns), a higher density of development (intensification) in employment areas (e.g. 2 or 3 storey buildings) will be encouraged. Where the continued use of sites/premises solely for employment (planning use class B)29 purposes is demonstrated to be unviable, the Council will expect mixed use enabling schemes to be considered as a way of maximising the employment potential of the site or premises.

9.5 In the absence of a demonstrably viable mixed use approach, incorporating employment space, the extent to which any alternative use proposed can generate employment will be a consideration. The forthcoming Development Management Plan will explore these options and, if appropriate, identify locations where this approach will be suitable.

9.6 With changing work and lifestyle patterns, home-based working is increasing. Generally, this does not involve the need for planning permission but if proposals such as live/work units as part of a residential development are put forward, they will be supported wherever possible.

(1)POLICY E1: Existing Employment Land and Premises

Effective use of employment land and premises will be secured by the following:

  1. land and premises currently, or last used for employment purposes – including B1, B2 & B8 or any of a use of a similar character not falling within a specified use class, will be retained in such use unless it is demonstrated that there is no reasonable prospect of its continued use for employment purposes or it would cause serious harm to local amenities;

  2. where continued employment use of a site/premises is demonstrated to be unviable permitting a mixed use enabling development which incorporates employment space will be considered first; if a mixed use scheme is not viable the extent to which any proposed new use generates new employment will be taken into account.

  3. permitting intensification, conversion, redevelopment and/or extension having regard to other policies of the Plan;

The Employment Land Retention Supplementary Planning Document gives further details of how parts a) and b) of the policy will be implemented.

Proposals for development of live/work units will be supported subject to normal planning considerations.

Skills and access to jobs

Educational attainment

9.7 A key part of the intense regeneration activity in Hastings over the last few years has been directed towards enhancing the ability of local people to engage in economic activity and take up any jobs that have been introduced to the area. It was recognised that local educational performance needed to be raised significantly both to encourage inward investment and to reduce social exclusion with its consequent problems of poverty and reliance on benefits.

(1)9.8 The public investment has resulted in:

  • The establishment of higher education in Hastings town centre with the University Centre first phase (now: University of Brighton in Hastings) in 2003 and the second phase opening in 2012. Currently, there are 700 students rising to well over 1,000 with the second phase. The courses are commercially focused, designed in partnership with local employers to cover subjects from computing to business management, accounting, broadcast media and a range of adult education and Open University programmes.

  • A £105m complete overhaul of further and sixth form education in Hastings with the new Sussex Coast College on its two campuses at Station Plaza in the town centre and at Parker Road. The college provides a range of academic and vocational courses for 2,500 students to help to bring about education-led social and economic regeneration by improving skills levels, addressing inequalities and encouraging partnership working. It is engaged with over 700 local businesses that either receive training or feed their ideas and experience into curriculum development, and is working with industry to extend its current range of relevant and effective training provision.

  • Major improvements are underway in secondary education, firstly through progress by the local education authority in uplifting GCSE performance, and secondly, through the establishment of two new academies in the town.

9.9 Although the major investment needed to improve education provision has already been made or committed, it is expected that further related investment will continue; for example, in provision of student accommodation. Where proposals of this kind come forward for planning permission, they will be supported subject to other policies in the Plan.

Access to jobs

9.10 Skills development is not something that only happens between the ages of 14 and 21. In addition to formal educational institutions, skills development also takes place in the home and community.

9.11 The development of industrial, office, retail, leisure and even residential space will be important in the future not only in terms of creating new employment opportunities and construction jobs, but also for the opportunities that will arise for training, apprenticeships and work placements.

9.12 There are a range of measures which can enhance ‘access’ to jobs. These include life-long learning; apprenticeships; advice to help apply for jobs; guaranteed interviews; transport arrangements; childcare provision; training/work experience placements; and financial contributions towards such measures. The Council will work with developers, businesses, skilled trades people and new generations of trainees to ensure local people and firms benefit from the increase in training and employment opportunities future development will bring. Measures will be “tailor made” to be appropriate to specific development and will take the form of a training and employment plan, which could be included within a planning (s106) agreement.

POLICY E2: Skills and Access to Jobs

Proposals directly or indirectly related to the enhancement of higher further or secondary education, especially in Hastings town centre, will be supported subject to other policies in the Plan.

Measures will be sought from major employment generating development to promote access to the jobs it creates amongst those residents of Hastings who can have difficulty entering or returning to the labour market.

Major employment generating developments includes industrial, office, retail, leisure and any other development likely to generate 50 full time equivalent jobs or more. The policy will also apply to construction jobs related to such major developments and to major residential developments.

Town, District and Local Centres


The overarching strategy for shopping during the Plan period is set out in Chapter 4: Development Strategy, and includes Policy DS3: Location of Retail Development, which sets out the targets for further retail development up to 2028.

The Development Management Plan will include further policies relating to shopping and development, together with site allocations.

9.13 The town, district and local centres are a core part of the local economy. As well as places for shopping, they offer a sustainable location for employment and other activities including leisure, education and community activities. Hastings town centre is by far the most important and also the most accessible being served by all rail services and virtually all bus routes. In recent years, Hastings town centre has been the focus for regeneration investment with a new station, construction of the university centre and further education college, and establishment of the new Priory Quarter business area. It will continue to be the focus for economic development.

9.14 The established district and local centres perform an essential complimentary function which will continue to be protected and supported.

9.15 Maintaining and enhancing the vitality and viability of existing centres in the town is therefore a key part of our planning strategy. The hierarchy of centres in Hastings is set out in Policy E3 below.

POLICY E3: Town, District and Local Centres

The hierarchy of town, district and local centres in Hastings is:

Town Centre: Hastings (the principal centre in the town)

District Centre30: The Old Town, St Leonards centre, Ore Village, Silverhill

Local Centre31: Bohemia

Development proposals for town centre uses will be focused within the town and district centres. The scale and type of development will reflect the centre’s existing and proposed function and its capacity for new development. A proposal for a town centre use will be required to follow the assessment approach set out in national planning policy in terms of need, scale, sequential approach to site selection, impact on other centres, including those beyond the Borough boundary, and accessibility.

The vitality and viability of the town and district centres will be maintained and, where appropriate, enhanced. Measures will include:

  1. safeguarding the retail character and function of the centre;

  2. enhancing the appearance, safety and environmental quality of the centre;

  3. Encouraging diversity of uses within the centre and the provision of a wide range of retail, leisure, social, education, arts, cultural, office, residential and commercial uses;

  4. Promoting the reuse of vacant buildings; and

  5. Maintaining and enhancing access to the centre by sustainable modes of transport, and encouraging multi-purpose trips.

In partnership with other agencies, the Council will protect and enhance local centres to better service the local community as far as possible. If a local centre or part of it ceases to function, the Council will consider rationalisation of its role as a centre, or promotion of other uses.

Neighbourhood shops located outside the Hastings’ town, district and local centres will be protected where they are important to the day-to-day needs of local communities.

Tourism and visitors

Types of visitor

(1)9.16 The tourism industry is vital to the economy of Hastings, and is key to meeting our overall regeneration objectives. It contributes £211m to the local economy, and supports an estimated 4,850 jobs (3,550 FTE). This is divided between:

  • Summer day visitors - An estimated 2.6m day visitors spend around £82m in total, or just £31.70 per head. However, spend per head is low compared with some of our south coast competitors.

  • Staying visitors - who spend much more per head during their break. 426,000 staying visitors, spending an estimated £167 per visitor.

(1)9.17 Language schools also play a major role in the local economy, with an annual visitor spend of £35m, from approximately 35,000 students, mostly staying for short periods with local host families thus putting money very directly into the local economy. We need to consider the potential for future language schools in the town. Language schools generally need large buildings to operate and changes of use away from these limits the potential for future schools to locate here.

Tourism based employment

(1)9.18 Although the tourism sector remains extremely important to the economy of Hastings, it has not grown in recent times and remains concentrated on the summer and bank holiday periods. It therefore provides employment that is seasonal in nature. The Councils efforts have been directed towards extending the visitor seasons by supporting events such as Jack-in-the-Green (Mayday), the seafood and wine festival (September), and Hastings Day (October).

9.19 Tourism provides a range of ‘entry-level jobs’ such as cook, chamber maid, and shop and attraction staff, which are often seasonal, supported by a smaller number of professionals, which will remain important to the local economy. However, it must be recognised that it is unlikely to generate enough of the higher value-added jobs that, combined with a higher skilled workforce, will bring about sustainable regeneration on its own.

Visitor accommodation

(1)9.20 One problem is a lack of quality visitor accommodation. The town currently has 1,000 serviced visitor bed spaces, which are not all good quality, compared to a total of 8,000 in 1951 (excluding camping and caravans). However, some very good quality boutique hotels have developed in the past 5 years, a number of which have been pump primed through the “Space To Stay Scheme”, and investment from the private sector. Visitor accommodation at the top end of the market is doing very well, whereas poorer quality accommodation is not as popular. Planning policy will continue to protect visitor accommodation wherever it is viable.

9.21 The efforts to establish a more thriving business sector in the town are seen as helpful in this respect as “business tourism” (visitors staying in the town for business purposes) is an all year round activity and provides custom for hotels outside the normal holiday season.

9.22 Self-catering accommodation, mainly caravans and camping, actually provides more spaces than the traditional hotels and guest houses. Most is located on several large sites including the Combe Haven and Shearbarn. There has been no recent evidence of demand for further caravan and camping accommodation in the town. However, maintaining and where possible improving, the quality of what is there is important. Therefore, any proposals to upgrade the facilities will be supported wherever possible – in order to support jobs growth and encourage continued visitor spend.

Visitor attractions

(1)9.23 Visitor attractions take many forms and do not need to be in any particular location so any proposals which come forward will be looked on positively wherever they happen to be. However, whereas, in the heyday of English seaside holidays, the active resort extended along the whole length of the Hastings & St Leonards seafront, the core of activity is now concentrated in the Stade/Old Town area and beaches nearby. The recent major investment in the Jerwood Gallery and related facilities is serving to consolidate the tourist role of the area and broaden its appeal to a different sector of the visitor market.

(1)9.24 The pier itself is now some way to the west of the main tourist area. However, with positive actions underway to renovate the pier following the fire, the White Rock Hotel and the Theatre nearby, and the opportunity offered by the former White Rock Baths, the planning strategy looks to support opportunities for tourist activity along all parts of the seafront.

Priorities for tourism

  • Working towards an all year round tourist season is a key aim for the town.

  • We need to encourage more short-stay visitors with a higher spending power,

  • We need to retain and support improved accommodation

  • Key to this is the need to retain and improve visitor attractions, whenever opportunities occur but particularly along the seafront.

  • Continue to recognize the economic importance of language schools to the town.

9.25 This will lead towards the provision of more permanent good quality jobs in the tourism sector.

(2)POLICY E4: Tourism and Visitors

The Council will work to promote and secure sustainable tourism development in the town. A more diverse and high quality tourism offer will be encouraged that seeks to lengthen the tourism season, increase the number of visitors, provide job opportunities and sustain the tourism economy.

Visitor Attractions:

New visitor attractions will be encouraged and those that already exist will be protected, unless it can be demonstrated they are no longer economically viable either in existing or adapted form. The upgrading of provision will be encouraged where it increases the range and/or quality of tourist facilities.

Proposals for new visitor attractions will be considered sympathetically anywhere within the Borough subject to other policies. The seafront is seen as the core resort area and particular support will be given to measures and proposals which are well related to the seafront.

Visitor Accommodation:

New visitor accommodation will be directed to the Seafront, the main arterial routes, and close to other generators of demand. Extension to existing visitor accommodation will also be supported, subject to design and location policies.

The priority areas for retention of visitor accommodation are the Seafront (including Warrior Square), the Old Town and the Town Centre. In these areas, there will be a presumption against a change of use away from existing facilities unless the facility is no longer viable or is incapable of improvement to a good standard. The Visitor Accommodation Supplementary Planning Document supports this policy approach.

Proposals for upgrading caravan and camping facilities will be encouraged where it increases the range and/or quality available to the tourist.

Language Schools:

In recognition of their importance to the local economy, the Council will also support proposals that improve, protect or make new provision for language schools in suitable locations. Proposals for changes of use of language schools to other uses will be resisted unless it can be demonstrated that the use is no longer economically viable.

29 Business uses are those essentially within Class B of the Use Classes Order, including offices, research and development uses, light manufacturing, general industry, warehousing/storage and similar Sui Generis uses. 30 Groups of shops often containing at least a supermarket and a range of non-retail services such as banks, building societies, restaurants, as well as public facilities such as a library. 31 A range of small shops of a local nature, serving a small catchment – could include a small supermarket, a newsagent, sub post office, launderette etc.
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