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Hastings Borough Council has been successful in its recent bid to the Coastal Communities Fund in the latest round of grant funding applications.

The grant worth £812,770 is for a new project called ‘Destination White Rock, Hastings – Continuing the Economic Revival’ and will enable the council and partners to revive the White Rock area with a total project value of £1.081m.

Led by the council, the Hastings Coastal Communities Team will manage a portfolio of projects to improve the economic wellbeing of the White Rock area.

Funding will contribute to projects at Rock House, a partially converted office block with a mix of uses, including commercial, residential and community, to provide affordable business development and commercial space. The adjoining Rock Alley will also benefit, with improvements allowing adjoining businesses to contribute to its economic revival and by giving another pathway between the White Rock seafront and inland.Pier white rock area IMG_6650 SM

The currently redundant water feature and White Rock promenade between the Pier and Source Park will be refurbished and traditional beach huts will be installed east of the Pier to encourage active use of this area of the beach.

The Source Park will develop a BMX Olympic inspired training programme and offer a series of local, regional and international BMX and skateboarding events to attract thousands of visitors extending the season throughout the year.

There will also be a community based business initiative, developing the local community to participate in and manage the economic revival of the area.

Project manager Kevin Boorman commented:

“This is excellent news for Hastings and the future development of our town. This funding will enhance the significance of the White Rock area as the geographical centre of Hastings and allow it to become a destination in its own right and, a great place to relax and do business. We will start work on these projects now and hope to see completion at the end of 2019.”

Richard Moore the Source Park added: “This grant will help The Source Park realise its full potential as a global BMX and Skateboard centre of excellence. We’re looking forward to building on the success of the Battle of Hastings contests to develop a series of events that showcases Hastings and the Source Park around the world. At the same time, our coaching program, the first of its kind in our sports, aims to give everyone the chance to learn our sports’ and develop the stars of the future”

“Rock House is a unique creative and affordable space for living, working and community action. We’re delighted that this grant will help us with the next phase of the refurbishment which will create new jobs and enterprises, while protecting the very special character of the White Rock/America Ground neighbourhood” said Jess Steele, White Rock Neighbourhood Ventures, social enterprise owners of Rock House

Together the projects aim to support 180 local businesses, create 12 tourism events, create over 180 jobs,  increase visitor numbers by over 60,000  which in turn will create an extra £4m spend in support of the wider community.


Together with their partners Groundwork South and the School of Natural Building Hastings Borough Council have been awarded £890,000 towards building a new centre at Hastings Country Park.

The new visitor centre will be part of a major European funded project to construct public buildings from straw.  Other countries involved in the project are Germany, Belgium, Netherlands and France.    The aim of the project is to showcase sustainable building projects with reduced carbon footprints.  The new visitor centre will be the first straw build building in the borough and will be a focus for new interpretation and events at the Country Park.hastings-country-park-nature-reserve

The partners submitted an initial expression of interest to Interreg North West Europe for the programme in February 2016 and were one of only 4 projects out of 79 applicants under the Low Carbon funding stream invited to submit a further, full application.

Providing a new visitor centre at Hastings Country Park Nature Reserve is a top priority for the council.  Planning permission was granted in 2015 so the council is keen to progress with the project as soon as possible.

The Interreg (NWE) Programme is a transnational European Territorial Cooperation Programme funded by the European Commission.  This grant is worth £540,000 to the council and its partner Groundwork South and £350,000 for the School of Natural Building, the UK’s lead organisation for straw buildings.

Councillor Colin Fitzgerald, the council’s new lead member for environment and place explained:

“This is absolutely fantastic news for the council.  We have had an ambition to build a new centre at Hastings Country Park for a number of years and with our partners Groundwork South have been working on grant applications to realise this ambition.  We hope to have the new centre open to the public early in 2018.  The new centre will be a completely sustainable straw building; a fitting building for the country park and its visitors and one which our residents can rightly be proud of”.

Executive director of Groundwork, Gary Jacobs added:

“I’m thrilled that our partnership has been successful in securing this grant award despite the tough competition. We believe a first class nature reserve deserves a first class visitor centre.  Working with the Friends of Hastings Country Park and the council we can now take forward this exciting opportunity to build one of the first public straw bale buildings in the UK which will help educate and inform local people and visitors of the truly amazing local heritage and wildlife on their doorstep.”

Eileen Sutherland from the School of Natural Building (SNaB) commented:

“This project is a significant milestone on the road to sustainable building across NW Europe.

By working with other European specialists, SNaB will deliver workforce skills and curriculum innovation in the field of Natural Building”


Hastings Borough Council is pleased to announce that they have been awarded a share of £4.8 million in the latest round of funding.

The Marine Management Organisation (MMO) made the announcement this week (01 November) that £800,000 funding under the European Maritime and Fisheries Fund (EMFF) has been offered to each of the six Fisheries Local Action Groups (FLAGs).

Hastings, Cornwall, Dorset and East Devon, Holderness, North of Tyne and North Thames will each receive £800,000 to progress their local development strategies to benefit and develop fisheries, coastal communities and the wider supply chain infrastructure

“This is really excellent news and our thanks must go to all who have been involved in supporting the FLAG programme and developing the bid for the second round of funding” said Cllr Dawn Poole vice chair of FLAG and the council’s lead member for regeneration.

She added:  “As a small scale fishery there are several challenges from the Common Fisheries Policy reforms, which may or may not change as a result of leaving the EU, and this local development strategic will work to mitigate some of these challenges at a local level. Now with this new funding in place we hope to start implementation of the programme early in 2017”

Commenting on the offer of funding to FLAGs MMO Chief Executive John Tuckett said:

“We are delighted to be able to offer such significant funding to each of the FLAGs. Having worked with the FLAGs to develop their strategies and help them through the EMFF FLAG selection process over the last 11 months it is very rewarding to reach the point where these strategies can come to fruition.

We look forward to seeing the benefit the FLAGs will bring to their local areas, the wider fisheries sector and fishing communities as a whole”

The business community in Hastings has come together to push forward a Hastings BID (Business Improvement District)

There are currently more than 230 BIDs throughout the UK, cumulatively investing over £200 million in projects decided upon by their respective local business communities. For the first time in Hastings the business community could have a budget which could be used to bring about change and increase business.

The Hastings BID, to be managed by a newly created Hastings Town Centre BID Company, aims to improve the experience for residents, visitors and businesses in Hastings and to market the town as a great place to work, live, shop and visit. It wants to reflect the ethnic and cultural diversity of the town, provide a voice and support for town centre businesses and lever in more money from other sources to supplement budgets.

“The Hastings BID affects businesses and amenities in the town with a rateable value of over £5000 and the money generated, which could be in excess of £1 million over the first five-year term, will fund eighteen additional town centre projects within four themes” said Cllr Dawn Poole, Hastings Borough Council’s lead member for regeneration.

The four themes are a better feel for the town centre, better connections and communications, a stronger business voice and a safer place.

“Businesses are being encouraged to vote in the Hastings BID ballot which takes place between 13 October and 10 November 2016, look out for ballot papers which will be arriving soon. 100% of funds generated by the BID will be held by the BID Company to spend locally on its approved projects” added Cllr Poole.

To find out more about the Hastings Bid visit www.hastingsbid.co.uk

Hastings Borough Council is looking for volunteers to sit on its grants advisory panel. This gives advice to the council’s charity committee on how surplus income from the Foreshore Trust should be distributed.

Cllr Colin Fitzgerald, who chairs the charity committee, explained :- “As a charity, the Foreshore Trust wants to help the local community, and giving grants to local groups is one way we can do this.

“We are looking for more volunteers to join our existing panel. It meets around four times a year, and other meetings may be called. We are particularly looking for people with a knowledge of the local voluntary and charitable sector.

“Anyone interested should contact our chief legal officer Chris Barkshire-Jones on Hastings (01424) 451751, email cbarkshire-jones@hastings.gov.uk


Hastings Borough Council’s cabinet committee has agreed a new set of priorities for commissioning services from the community and voluntary sector, focusing on the needs of the most vulnerable people in the community.

The Community Partnership Funding (CPF) funds a wide range of services that support improved equality of service and community cohesion. However, with continued financial pressure on budgets, the council has decided to focus investment on specific key outcomes in 2017-2019, when the current round of funding comes to an end in March 2017.

“Our priorities are built around supporting the most vulnerable in our community, recognising the need to maintain a basic level of support at a time of public sector cuts,” said Cllr Kim Forward, lead member for equality and communities. “Although the council has always encouraged new and innovative funding bids, it also recognises the importance of maintaining key existing services.”

The priorities identified are: housing, legal, welfare and debt advice; domestic violence support; advice and support to organisations; outreach support for rough sleepers; and advice and support to migrants and newly settled communities.

This does not mean the council will stop seeking alternative funding to support other priorities such as digital inclusion, employment and business support and other community support activities, but this will be done outside of the CPF programme in future.

The budget for the 2017-2019 CPF will be announced in December.

Hastings Borough Council announces the organisations that were successful in their bid for the £30,000 Anniversary Community Grants Fund 2016

The 1066 Anniversary Community Grants Fund 2016 grants scheme was set up to help the communities of Hastings mark the 950th anniversary of the battle of Hastings. The fund is to help local community groups to hold their own events or projects as part of the town’s anniversary activities.

Cllr Dawn Poole the council’s lead member for regeneration explained:

“A particular focus for this one-off grants programme was to support activities in more isolated and disadvantaged communities where the main 950th anniversary programme of events will not be staged.

“We wanted the fund to support a range of projects which enabled people to mark the anniversary in any way that included cultural or community events, educational activities or more permanent memorials. The activities were for small groups and schools and had to take place during 2016 within the borough of Hastings”.

The funds were hugely oversubscribed but finally fourteen organisations and groups were selected to benefit from the £30,000 fund.

The grants ranged from £500 to St Leonards Primary Academy for an educational school trip to Battle Abbey and up to £2640 awarded to Women’s Voice for Echoing Jeremy Birch’s One Hastings Many Voices. Their aim is to encourage social cohesion using cooking to bring women together to share skills and learn about which types of food were eaten in 1066. And, £3000 was awarded to aGender for a 1066 Anniversary Steam Print Spectacular; following the battles of 1066 -2016 and how to resolve them a series of print-making workshops where people’s creations will be shown at the Stade as part of Hastings Cartoon Festival.

“We are delighted that so many groups and organisations were keen to get involved with the 950th celebrations and look forward to seeing all the winning projects come to fruition” added Cllr Poole.


Hastings Borough Council has successfully secured funding from the The Sussex Lund grants programme.

The Sussex Lund grants programme is a collaboration between the charitable fund, Lund, and the Sussex Community Foundation. It supports small-scale, practical projects that improve the ecology and landscape of the High Weald.

Recognised as an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB), the High Weald is an exceptional medieval landscape, with a wealth of wildlife and historic features that provide a strong sense of place, enrich lives and inspire community pride.

“This is really excellent news! The grant of £ £8,494 will help to recreate areas of heather on the Firehills, restoring the landscape to a heathland mosaic of shrubs, including heather and gorse interspersed with acid grassland” said Cllr Warren Davies the council’s lead member for environment.

“A mixed-species hedge on an ancient boundary bank by the heathland will be also be replanted to act as a wildlife corridor and a wind break and the species-rich grassland fields will be enhanced to create flower-rich meadows to improve biodiversity and benefit a wide range of wildlife, especially pollinating insects” he added.

Sussex Lund is open to anyone who thinks they have a project that will benefit the landscape of the High Weald AONB, green projects that will make practical, tangible improvements to the High Weald and can inspire wider change. Examples might include improvements to habitats such as woods, marshes, meadows and hedgerows; planting trees and orchards; removing non-native tree species; community gardening; greening in and around villages; reducing sign and light pollution; clearing litter and improving rights of way.

The Hastings Independent Press (HIP) is a free, not-for-profit, fortnightly newspaper run mainly by volunteers – and they’ve just published their 50th issue. Having run for two years on a shoestring, they’re now raising the bar – to the tune of £15,000. This would finance a professional office space and a distribution service, allowing the paper to build on its success.

About the Hastings Independent

For two years, HIP’s team of volunteers have worked tirelessly to provide quality news, back local causes, support community cohesion, promote local arts, and provide training and work experience to local people.

This kind of positive, community-focused organisation is vital to the town, which suffers low average incomes, high unemployment, and more than its fair share of substance abuse and mental health problems. According to the Department for Communities and Local Government, Hastings is the most deprived town on the south coast, and the 13th most deprived local authority in England.

“It’s a community paper, for and of the community,” says reader Jane Grimshaw, who has also appeared in the paper for her work with Hastings Supports Refugees. “It’s lead and inspired by members of the community with an inclusive approach to reporting what is happening in our area.”

Providing training to the community

Very few of HIP’s volunteers have formal training in journalism, so the team run free weekly peer-to-peer sessions on Monday evenings at a local careers centre. Recent sessions have included news writing (run by the news ed, an ex sub-editor), law for journalists (run by the sports ed, a retired solicitor), photojournalism (run by the picture ed, a professional photographer) and media sales (run by the advertising manager). Volunteers also make use of free training resources, such as the online course in community journalism by Cardiff University.

“I came to HIP to learn new skills, become more confident in my writing and gain new experiences,” says volunteer Leanne Cannon, who is also studying English with the Open University. “Working with HIP I feel that I can reach those goals.”

With recent news that the University of Brighton will be withdrawing its Hastings campus in five years (along with its journalism course), HIP has become even more vital as a training resource.

Recent coverage

HIP is primarily paper-first, feeling that a free, paper-based news source is important to the community. But it has also recently refurbished its website, to broaden its reach and allow volunteers to link to their stories when applying for jobs. Here are a few recent articles:

Achievements to date:

  • Pagination has increased from an initial 16 pages to a current 24.
  • Regular volunteers have grown from an initial 4 to a team of 37, including 12 section editors, 4 sub editors, 4 photographers and over 20 writers.
  • We also have more than 100 occasional contributors.
  • Advertising covers most running costs, with preferential rates for small local businesses and community organisations.

What past volunteers are doing now

Several volunteers have used their experience with HIP to gain new employment. A few examples are: gallery assistant at Express Newspapers, social data journalist at Brandwatch, freelance writer for Novara and the Guardian, communications manager for the local borough council.

Crowdfunding campaign

Having confirmed the local appetite for an independent news source over the past two years – and the HIP team’s ability to provide it – they are celebrating their 50th issue by launching a crowdfunding campaign to raise £15,000.

This will allow the paper to build on its success to date, by financing for one year:

  1. A distribution co-ordinator to do newspaper deliveries.
  2. Improvements to the office, which was kindly donated but needs some work.
  3. Occasional shortfalls in running costs such as printing and design (usually financed by advertising).

hastings-independent-logoAny help with raising the profile of the crowdfunder, or the paper in general, would be much appreciated.

We were very lucky at Business in Hastings this morning, with the sun shining and it being  slightly warmer, we got the chance to go and have a look on the pier and watch Madness front man Suggs lay down the final plank.Suggs

The last of the finishing touches are finally being made hopefully ready for its grand opening in April, no date has been confirmed of when this will be but all fingers are crossed for the end of April.

With a celebration Gala planned for May 21 which will be open for all the public, followed by an open-air  concert.  The Gala will take place between 3pm-6pm, and will include entertainment, food stalls and music.

This will be followed by the Finale Concert where you can see Madness perform some of their well known hits.  This will start at 7pm and tickets for this will be priced at £25 each and will be going on sale to the general public on Thursday 24th March

The opening in April will see a vintage funfair for children, the Pavilion restaurant which has been rebuilt the same as the original design and the café/bar which will see Hastings with the only Pier in the uk with upper and lower deck with a rooftop bar.  This really is a site not to be missed.  We managed to sit up there earlier and the views of Hastings are absolutely breathtaking.

There are also plans for an outdoor cinema, farmers market, live music and the Zippo Circus will be coming to the pier for three weeks from the 6th August.

The original pier opened in 1872 but it was closed in 2006 amid fears it was not safe.  It was in October 2010 where it was purposely set on fire and destroyed.

Most of the funds for the £14m scheme came from the Heritage Lottery Fund and more than 3,000 people also brought community shares in the company that will own and operate it.

The pier’s reopening comes in a special year for the town as 2016 marks the 950th anniversary of the Battle of Hastings.