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

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.

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

Mosaic beach walk

We had some great feedback on the beach walk on June 3rd where locals looked for things to draw for the mosaic design.

Here are a few photos and a poster with the times and dates of the mosaic making workshops.

We hope to publish the design developed by Emma Harding very soon.

Mosaic project underway!

Things are getting exciting now that we have collected all the drawings from the community. They will be the foundation for the design created by Emma Harding, the mosaic artist. Watch this space…

Volunteer to help with mosaic workshops

We’ve been working hard fundraising and we are very happy to say we (that’s the community/public/everyone!) are going to create the Mosaic at Warrior Square Station this summer.

This will consist of 11 days of workshops from 10th-19th July at Zoom Arts (right by the station and the mosaic site).

We would love your help at the workshops.

It would be easy things like:
Getting room ready
Doing some of the mosaic- most important!
Watching that people don’t put their grubby hands on the artwork!!!
Keep an eye on things not getting too messy in general
Sweeping floor occasionally
Keeping table and work area clean & regularly wiped
Showing people where toilets are
Equipping people with aprons/shirts etc
Giving out refreshments

Also there is a Beach Walk early June to help with the design.

We are having a prep & training session for volunteers on Thurs 11th July from 7-9pm– can you come along?
Email info@transitiontownhastings.org.uk.

(Illustration of mosaic is not final design)

Hastings Older Women’s Co Housing

HOWCH held a meeting in November 2018 with a shout out for talent!

The name comes from similar schemes for Older Women’s Community Housing (OWCH).  This group added the “H” for Hastings.  It was started in October 2017.

Brekke Larsen explained the vision behind HOWCH was from Denmark where her godfather lived in a co-operative housing scheme.  This enabled him to maintain his independence whilst ensuring that he was never lonely.  Many years later, Brekke’s niece separated from her husband and went to live with her children in a shared development.  In this scheme, everyone had their own front doors but with some shared amenities.  There is now a movement towards this type of development in the UK.

Action for Rural Sussex is one such organisation that is involved in providing advice and support for such schemes.

There are about 200 Community Land Trusts (CLTs) around the country e.g. Bristol, York, Brent (the most famous).  This type of scheme also features in Hastings Borough Council’s (HBC) manifesto.  In some ways, CLTs fill the gap left by the reduction in council housing.

This is the background to the idea behind HOWCH.  It is not for profit.  No-one will make money out of this – it is only for the community.  There are now 5 people in the Steering Group.  Stage 3 funding has been applied for.  This will enable HOWCH to set up a legal entity, create a website etc.  The next stage is to take this to the community to see what the reaction might be.  The Steering Group want to be sure that what they are doing is what the community are interested in.

Hastings Trust Legacy Archive

As the long-standing, local organisation The Hastings Trust draws to a close it’s now possible to view an online archive of the trust’s work. For over 30 years the trust worked with scores of local partners on hundreds of initiatives to improve the quality of life for people in Hastings and St Leonards-on-Sea. The website is a record of that achievement and a resource for those who follow in it’s footsteps. Archive materials featuring 25 years of conservation, environmental improvements and regeneration work includes complete sets of newsletters and annual reviews plus a selection of photos, films, presentations and project documents that are free to download.

Visit the site.

Cohousing Talk presentation

On May 11th Julian Howell gave a short talk about cohousing projects and a very clear ‘how to’ to help groups to get started. Julian Howell is a founder member of Sussex Cohousing a Brighton-based community in the making.

After the talk there was a lively discussion about what people were interested in doing locally.  There was an interest in finding ways to live together in a supportive and collaborative way or living with a deeper connection to nature by sharing land. We hope the conversation continues and cohousing projects or land sharing projects can be realised in and around Hastings, a town where good quality affordable housing is hard to find.


Download Julian’s talk here:

About cohousing 2018 – Julian Howell


Sign up to the Hastings Cohousing discussion if you are interested in joining a conversation about cohousing in the Hastings area  – a closed group on Groups.io.


New Economics Foundation have recently published this guide to help groups looking to build community-led, affordable housing development in their area overcome one of their greatest obstacles: acquiring land.

 

Help keep Hastings Pier in community ownership

Friends of Hastings Pier have been pushed into a corner by an Administration process that is unsuitable for a community-owned asset. They have put forward alternative plans which are exciting and realistic but been told that they won’t take the bid seriously unless we have £1M available. That’s why they’re pushing this crowdfunder. Raising half a million pounds now from individuals and organisations will keep us ‘in the game’ and encourage other funders to invest alongside you to make our Pier a success.

Hastings Pier has been a beacon of community-led regeneration, a pioneer in the world of community shares, and an inspiration to community groups across the country. The hazard faced is not just for Hastings; if the People’s Pier fails perceptions of community ownership will be badly damaged, even though community ownership was never the problem and is definitely part of the solution.

Please help in any way you can – most obviously and most immediately by clicking the link and then spreading the word.

https://www.crowdfunder.co.uk/fohp2018