Hastings Town Centre and Bohemia Area Action Plan
1.1 Hastings Town Centre and Bohemia has been identified by the Council as critical to the continued social, economic and cultural regeneration of the Borough capable of accommodating the homes, jobs and services which are needed to meet local needs and drive forward future economic growth. The area, whilst providing the town's principal focus for retail, employment, education, leisure, culture and tourism, faces a number of social, economic and environmental challenges. The Area Action Plan (AAP) seeks to address these issues and to unlock the significant untapped potential of the area.
1.2 The AAP provides the opportunity to enable a significant step change in Hastings and sets outs out a coordinated strategy for regeneration and growth. It seeks to make Hastings a more attractive place to live, work and visit, to encourage investment and to maximise local economic benefits. It seeks to promote the early and sustained transformation of the area through a coordinated action plan and effective partnership working. In doing this, it takes a joined up and more flexible policy approach to the town centre, Bohemia and the seafront in order to maximise opportunities and to ensure proposals are sustainable and deliverable.
1.3 The boundary of the area covered by the AAP is shown in figure 1.
Figure 1: Boundary of area covered by the Hastings Town Centre and Bohemia Area Action Plan
1.4 The vision for Hastings Town Centre and Bohemia has evolved through early engagement with key stakeholders and is as follows:
'By 2033 Hastings, founded upon our unique heritage, natural environment and seaside location and supported by social, economic, cultural and environmental regeneration, will be a safe and thriving place to live, work and visit that offers a high quality of life and has a strong economy and sustainable future. Hastings Town Centre will be a high quality town centre serving local residents, workers, students and visitors – a destination of choice with a unique sense of place.'
1.5 To make this happen Hastings Town Centre and Bohemia will be continually improved through investment in the public realm, the reuse of key seafront sites, regeneration of open spaces, new housing development in Bohemia and improvements to the retail offer of the town centre, complemented by new leisure, cultural and tourism facilities. The approach to the regeneration of key areas of the town centre, Bohemia and the seafront will ensure the right uses, in the right location and a scale of development that can positively contribute to the economic life of the town and range of services and uses which benefit both residents and visitors. A careful balance will be struck between the quantum and quality of development, particularly housing, and how this can help create and cross-fund improvements to the public realm, as well as civic and cultural uses in the area. The positive benefits of regeneration will be made possible through a comprehensive and coordinated approach to the use of public sector land and assets.
1.6 The town centre will meet modern retail requirements and have a strong local economy whilst making the most of its distinctive heritage, open spaces and seafront.
1.7 Bohemia can be a game-changer, a celebration of the Hastings spirit, which builds on existing qualities and unlocks the potential of this part of town. White Rock Park will be both a destination and a new living room for Hastings, and Bohemia will be opened up as a place to explore. Bohemia can be a testbed for new tools and techniques – cultural, social, ecological and economic, for establishing new ways of living. Over time, Bohemia will become a creative, diverse and forward looking addition to Hastings.
1.8 We will work in a way that creates interest and invites collaboration. Whilst planning for the future we will open the doors for new uses and provide the framework for future investment.
1.9 The vision for the town centre and Bohemia is underpinned by a number of key objectives:
Objective 1: Achieve and sustain a thriving economy
1.10 To promote economic growth and local employment opportunities and increase the quality of commercial floorspace and economic opportunities in the town centre for the benefit of the Borough as a whole. Development and change will be phased in line with investment in the area and will include the provision of interesting buildings and spaces which will attract start-up businesses and people looking for an alternative workspace, including affordable artist/artisan "maker" and co-working/shared working spaces for creative industries. The process of change in Bohemia will commence in the short term through a series of programmed activities and meanwhile uses and by engaging with the community in shaping the future of the area and its economic vitality.
Objective 2: Make best use of existing assets to make Hastings distinctive
1.11 To make best use of existing assets and facilities and consolidate uses to create critical mass and activity, exploring new retail, civic and cultural spaces and extending the range, quality and accessibility of facilities and services to support a vibrant, thriving place that will attract people to live, work and visit the town centre and Bohemia area.
Objective 3: Promote Hastings as a destination of choice
1.12 To create a more competitive destination with an extended offer as a place to shop, work, spend leisure time, learn and live with an exciting range of different leisure and tourist attractions which will continually evolve the Hastings brand and visitor experience. This will be supported by a programme of events and festivals which will extend the range of visitors and tourist season. To promote the Bohemia area as a focus for leisure, recreational and cultural activities which complements the Old Town and St Leonards, increases footfall and activity, activates the seafront and improves the range and quality of visitor attractions and facilities and the overall visitor offer in Hastings.
Objective 4: Maximise the opportunities to meet local housing needs and create a safe, healthy and attractive living environment
1.13 To maximise the opportunities for new residential development and associated infrastructure which creates attractive and healthy living environments with access to a range of facilities and services and a mix of housing and community facilities including affordable housing. This means making best use of available land and promoting high quality development of an appropriate form and density whilst protecting and enhancing the built and natural environment, providing new and improved green spaces and green links and minimising and mitigating the impacts of development on the natural and local environment from ground, air, water and noise pollution.
Objective 5: Safeguard and improve the town's heritage and natural environment
1.14 To take an environmentally sensitive approach to change which respects the town's heritage, reinforces the landscape and seafront setting and ensures new development is of the highest design and environmental quality with the creation of a network of high quality green spaces focussed around a revitalised White Rock Gardens - a park fit for the 21st Century with improved connections to the seafront.
Objective 6: Provide an efficient and effective transport system
1.15 To create an attractive and distinctive area that is accessible to all, particularly those with specific mobility needs. Create strong east-west connections which enables greater walking and cycling and greater use of public transport through the provision of improved pedestrian and cycle connections between Bohemia, the seafront, Hastings Town Centre and St Leonards which will address issues of traffic congestion, parking and air quality embracing the use of technology and communications to enable 'smart mobility'.
1.16 Realisation of these objectives will generate:
- an improved regional presence;
- new employment and business opportunities;
- new and improved leisure and cultural facilities;
- new high quality homes to meet housing needs;
- higher visitor numbers which will in turn generate spend and further investment;
- a positive perception of Hastings as a place to visit and invest in;
- improvements to the health and wellbeing of the people living in Hastings.
Question 1: Do you agree with the vision and objectives for Hastings Town Centre and Bohemia? If not how should these be changed?