Retention of Visitor Accommodation SPD
1.1 The tourism industry is an important contributor to the local economy in Hastings. 6.8% of people were employed in the accommodation and food service sector in 2009, rising from 6% in 2007. Tourism contributes £253 million to the local economy and supports an estimated 5,280 jobs, equating to 3,911 Full Time Equivalents (source: Tourism South East, 2013).
1.2 Staying visitors are particularly important to the local economy. In 2013, an estimated 427,000 staying trips were spent in the Borough, up 1.3% compared to 2012. These overnight visitors spent just under £91.5 million on their trip, compared to 3.2 million day visitors spending just £82.4 million, giving a spend of £180 per head for staying visitors compared to £30 per head for day visitors (Source : Tourism South East).
1.3 Whilst there has been some improvement in recent years in the numbers of visitors to the area and the money being spent in the town, the lack of quality visitor accommodation is still a significant issue, and the Council are working hard to improve the contribution tourism makes to the economy as a whole.
1.4 The town currently has around 1000 serviced visitor bed spaces, not all of a good quality, compared with a total of around 8000 in 1951. This represents a low base compared with many of Hastings’ competitors, such as Eastbourne with around 7 000, Brighton with 13 000, and Bournemouth with around 23 000. Visitor accommodation continues to be lost, although some very good quality boutique hotels have opened in the area in recent years.
1.5 The provision of new visitor accommodation, and the maintenance and, where necessary, the improvement of existing accommodation are therefore of key importance to the town. Our main aim is to encourage more all year round short stay visitors with a higher spending power, leading to the provision of permanent jobs in the tourist sector and contributing to the regeneration of the town. Our events programme, concentrated on the ‘shoulder’/low season, helps in this respect, as does our positioning of Hastings as a great base from which to visit the whole of 1066 Country. We also particularly target overseas visitors, who traditionally spend more than domestic visitors (many of whom stay with friends and relatives).
Development Plan Background
1.6 The Hastings Local Plan currently comprises two key documents that provide the statutory framework for land use and development in Hastings up to 2028. These documents include the Hastings Planning Strategy 2014 and the Development Management Plan 2015.
1.7 The Hastings Planning Strategy contains a specific policy that seeks to deliver the Council’s priorities for Tourism – particularly focusing on visitor attractions, visitor accommodation and language schools. This is set out below.
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.
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.
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 serviced 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. Outside these areas, change of use away from visitor accommodation (including camping, caravan and chalet sites) will be resisted, unless the criteria of the Visitor Accommodation Supplementary Planning Document (SPD) are adhered to, and the unviable nature of the business can be demonstrated. The SPD contains guidance in support of this policy approach.
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.
1.8 This Supplementary Planning Document (SPD) provides additional guidance and support for the Visitor Accommodation element of Policy E4 above, and constitutes a material consideration in the determination of planning applications.