Hastings hopes to be South East’s first Garden Town

As one of the most under-served communities in the South East, Hastings is no stranger to promises of transformative funding from central government. But campaigners hope the community involvement and strong green element mean the new Hastings Town Deal will be different. This blog by Thalia Griffiths looks at their plans.

Transition Town Hastings (TTH), working collaboratively with both borough and county councils, is working to secure funding from the $25m Hastings Town Deal, for the first phase of a programme to ensure that the town’s economic transformation takes place along sustainable principles, including creating the South East’s first green Garden Town.

Despite its quaint Old Town and seafront attractions, Hastings ranks high on the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government’s English indices of multiple deprivation. A succession of headline spending packages over the years have failed to deliver lasting change but TTH is hopeful that a renewed focus on valuing community participation may help foster improved wellbeing and civic pride.

“The Garden Town initiative is taking a qualitatively different approach because it’s a community-led idea,” said former TTH chair Sherry Clark. Since the Hastings Town Deal’s initial call for submissions from community projects in 2020, Garden Town team members have worked to create more of an integrated partnership, advocating for local people to contribute as equal participants in the programme development, instead of leaving control in the hands of statutory local authorities.

Past interventions have often overlooked the transformative potential of green surroundings but the new Hastings Town Deal gives a central role to its green element as a means to attract investment and visitors. East Sussex College will create a Green Technology Centre of Excellence providing training and learning programmes focused on the green economy. The overall plan, which includes redeveloping Hastings’ Norman castle as a major visitor attraction, is ambitious, but for their part of it, TTH are starting with small but visible steps to move the focus from vehicles to people and create more green spaces.

Gardening Our Streets is a community-led initiative to plant and tend a series of pop-up “parklets” and garden spaces to show how much difference a little green might make to the busy and car-dominated town centre. Parklets, which have been hugely successfully since lockdown in cities such as Bath, extend and green parking spaces and pavements with planters and features such as seating, proving that urban nature-based initiatives don’t need to take up a lot of space to have an impact.

Gardening Our Streets held two planting workshops on 19 and 21 May, where participants filled 18 hand-made oak planters with hardy seaside plants. A call went out for volunteers, who included A Band of Brothers young men’s group, Holy Trinity Church, Groundwork South and the Hastings Rough Sleepers Initiative. The initiative is being coordinated by TTH, with advice from Great Dixter head gardener Fergus Garrett, local landscape architect Julia Hilton, and local horticulturalists Nicole Collomb and Abby Riddihough.

TTH already has a community garden and wildflower path at St Leonards Warrior Square station, as well as four community composting hubs, but Gardening Our Streets is a much bigger undertaking, one where organisers have found themselves tackling challenges like manoeuvring seven one-tonne bags of soil and £3,000 worth of plants into a narrow alley. The planters are just the first phase of the ambitious Garden Town programme, which takes as its inspiration Sheffield city centre’s transformational Grey to Green scheme.

Hastings Garden Town envisions Havelock Road, which runs from the rail station to the seafront, as a biodiverse greening and flood prevention urban garden, with green arteries that connect the town centre to its parks, seafront and countryside.

Initial funding for the project came from the Trinity Triangle/America Ground Heritage Action Zone, that paid for a community consultation in Trinity Street in June 2021, as well as the 16 wheeled oak planters, emblazoned with ‘Gardening Our Streets’ and ‘We Dig Hastings’. Additional financial support for community participation has come from Sussex Community Development Foundation’s Asset-Based Community Development programme, Making It Happen.

The short-term aim is to extend the greening to join up local spots like pocket parks and community orchards to create greener, safer arteries through the town. The initiative also includes the launch of We Dig Hastings, an innovative gardening ‘time bank’ enabling volunteers to exchange the time they give to Gardening Our Streets for anything from coffee and cake at a local café to trips to inspirational local gardens like Great Dixter.

TTH says time-banking isn’t so much about formal volunteering as about creating connections and caring about common ground. Time-banks are a way to recognise and acknowledge the value of informal caring and community work that might not be possible otherwise. One key feature of a time-bank is that the time-credits participants get for taking part are transferable — they can be gifted so another person can benefit from them.

“It’s not about ‘Build Back Better’, we’re trying to create something completely new,” Sherry said. “It’s about building forward differently, by recognising and valuing the contributions local people are making to improving the town centre.”

Originally posted at https://seclimatealliance.uk/hastings-hopes-to-be-south-easts-first-garden-town/ by Thalia Griffiths, South East Climate Action

Green Room @ The Common Room

We have the ‘Green Room’ until the end of March and wanted to remind you that you’re welcome to drop in any Thursday (open 12-4pm) to use the space for climate-change action and activities.
Book the space in the evenings for free (normally £15/ hour) on any Thursday.  The Green Room is a great place to…

  • host workshops and meetings
  • learn more about some of the green movers-and-shakers in town – just check out the noticeboard
  • have a chat with like-minded fellow “Commoners” who drop by and hang out there 
  • get free energy advice from Energise Sussex Coast(weekly drop-ins from 1-4pm)
  • eat, drink and be merry at our monthly zero-waste “Food for Thought” potluck suppers (7-9pm on the fourth Thursday of the month. Next one is 24 March).

It’s proving a great place to make connections, have conversations and do stuff, so if you are new in town and would like to meet fellow locals, just drop in for a cuppa and see what happens!
Volunteer ‘revolving’ chairpersons neededWe won’t be holding an official Transition Town Hastings meeting this March as we’re all feeling the need for a pause. We will reconvene monthly TTH meetings in April and Anna Locke has made a great suggestion, championing the idea of ‘revolving’ chairpersons, in the absence of an elected one. The idea is to have 4 people make a quarterly commitment for only 3 months. Want to be part of our new quartet of chairs? Drop us a line at info@transitiontownhastings.org.uk Green Drinks will also resume in April… til then, all things climate-related continue in the Green Room. Hope to see you there before long! The Green Room in The Common Room 27-29 Cambridge Road (across from ESK), Hastings TN34 1DT

Launch of Citizens are designers with the De La Warr Pavilion

We’ve been working to deliver a design resource commissioned by the De La Warr Pavilion, as part of the Care & Citizenship programme. Beginning in Spring 2021, Care & Citizenship is a lively series of commissions, online talks, workshops, events and resources co-devised with organisations and individuals committed to creating social change. Examining varied approaches to care and active citizenship, the programme invites us to find new ways to act with care in our own lives, collaborating with those around us to create a more equitable society.

Sarah Macbeth and Anna Locke have produced a shareable resource to support people to be designers of local, place-based community action.

Read more on the project page.

TTH are successful in Bounce Forward grant funding

We’re very happy to announce that we’ve secured two small grants from the Transition Network via The National Lottery Community Fund.

Our Warrior Square Station community garden project has needed more visibility within the local community. Passers-by are always complimentary but forever asking who’s responsible. To help better communicate who we are and what we do (and why), the first successful Bounce Forward grant will pay for the installation of a community noticeboard. As well as raising awareness of the garden, it will promote the garden sessions to potential volunteers, and advertise other town-wide activities promoting more sustainable living locally.

In the spirit of supporting a circular economy – an economic system aimed at eliminating waste and the continual use of resources – TTH’s second successful Bounce Forward grant is going to help them initiate a brand-new-to-town event – a Jumble Trail. As its name suggests, a Jumble Trail is a community-based, neighbourhood-led jumble sale where a ‘treasure map’ helps local residents buy, sell or trade their pre-loved stuff in the convenient location of their own front garden. The first Jumble Trail will hopefully take place as a prelude to our flagship event, Sustainability on Sea 2021, next autumn.

Help retain the St Leonards Bathing Pool Site for public use before it’s too late!

The local council are proposing a 5 storey development, to house 152 units, which the West Marina Group believe is unacceptable and overlooks the massive potential the site has to offer. There are already several sites in the immediate area with planning permission sitting dormant and also the large area of land adjacent to the site is already earmarked for residential development.

The West Marina Group are petitioning the council to genuinely and urgently engage with the local community in West St Leonards and other interested parties to develop a clear community-led action plan for the former Bathing Pool site and the area around it.

Help the group to be heard by the local council but signing their petition at Change.org today: https://www.change.org/p/hastings-borough-council-save-the-st-leonards-bathing-pool-site-before-it-s-too-late

The Common Treasury talks lockdown on Hastings Isolation Station.

Claire Doran talks to Rob Hopkins and Maff Potts

The Common Treasury of Adaptable Ideas is running weekly community conversations on Isolation Station Hastings.

Imagining Life Beyond Lockdown are online conversations that include people from many of the projects featured at Common Treasury past events such as Rob Hopkins from the Transition Town Network.

Catch up on the previous conversations on Hastings Isolation Station.

Visit the Common Treasury website to find out more.

SOS festival programme is LIVE!

The printed programme is hot off the press! Look out for it around town over the coming weeks or download a PDF version here. SoS_Programme_digital Download

With more than 60 events and activities across 9 days the festival spans Hastings and Rother, from Winchelsea in the East to Bexhill in the west.

With each event taking a different approach to promoting a sustainable future the programme has something for all ages and many activities are free to attend.

Highlights include the Car Free Day street party (Sunday 22nd September, 12pm until 6pm) as Hastings marks the international event for the first time, turning the seafront road into community space for socialising, alfresco dining, entertainment and play.

The festival culminates in The Big Green Fair at the Stade (Sunday 29th September, 11:00am – 6:00pm) bringing together a wide range of local stallholders in an ethical marketplace, a programme of talks on sustainability issues, craft and culinary workshops, great food, entertainment and info stands for various local environmental campaigns.

Come and celebrate the ‘opening’ of the community mosaic

We’re celebrating the completion and final installation of the seaside themed mosaic created by the community.
We are having a little celebration on Saturday 24th Aug from 3-5pm in front of Warrior Square Station, come with your smiles and we will supply refreshments. If it’s raining we will be in Zoom Arts.

Deadline for entry in SOS printed programme August 5th. It’s free!

There is now limited time left to add your project, event, action, offer to our sustainable festival programme for free! Register today at www.sustainabilityonsea.org.uk/register-your-event

Check out events so far at www.sustainabilityonsea.org.uk/events
SOS 2019 takes place Sept 21-29 across Hastings/St Leonards/Rother.
#Hastings #bexhill #stleonards #sustainability #community #actlocal #thinkglobal #climatecrisis #transition #transitiontown #2019 #SOS #festival

Mosaic building this week!

We’ve made a start on the community mosaic, involving local school children, Gizmos children’s club, clients from the Seaview Centre and volunteer local residents. Here are some photos to give you a flavour of how it’s looking.

There is still a lot to do! Please help us complete this lovely piece of community artwork – lots of times you can pop into Zoom Arts this week:
Mon 15 July 2.30–4.30pm
Tue 16 July 1.30–4.00pm
Wed 17 July 2.30–4.30pm
Thu 18 July 2.30–4.30pm
Fri 19 July 10.00–12.30pm and 1.30–4.00pm