Observer Building

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Richard
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Observer Building

Postby Richard » Mon Feb 24, 2020 2:18 pm

OB plans to be launched at a local public forum this month

White Rock Neighbourhood Ventures Limited (WRNV), the local development company which completed its purchase of the derelict Observer Building on Cambridge Road a year ago today, is preparing to submit its full application for planning permission in April this year. And on 26th February Hastings Borough Council will host a public pre-planning forum at Muriel Matters House at which the company and its architects IF_DO will lay out its redevelopment proposals for discussion by councillors, planning officers and invited community representatives. Members of the public will be welcome to attend, ask questions and provide feedback.

https://www.hastingsindependentpress.co ... r-fervour/

https://theobserverbuilding.org.uk/our-plans/

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seahermit
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Re: Observer Building

Postby seahermit » Wed Feb 26, 2020 2:17 am

As I recall, all the Observer Building plans, public forums and consultations were gone through previously - atleast two years ago? With much fuss and publicity. To no effect whatsoever. The public's wishes were largely not taken notice of and the building sat there for another long period, degenerating. That is how things happen in Hastings.

It would be great if my cynical view was disproved by a change of attitude by the bureaucrats and a new and exciting creative project initiated. It ain't happened yet.

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Richard
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Re: Observer Building

Postby Richard » Wed Feb 26, 2020 11:56 am

There have been wrong dates ascribed in the Press and even on The Observer Building website which say it was bought on Valentine’s Day 2019 by White Rock Neighbourhood Ventures (WRNV), a partnership between:
Two investors/developers – Meanwhile Space and Jericho Road Solutions
A local charity and long-term owner Heart of Hastings CLT

'WRNV' – the owner of neighbouring 'Rock House' – secured the purchase of the empty Cambridge Road site on November 2018.
The former Observer building has had 12 different owners since it closed in the 1980s.
In December 2017, an application for an artist studio on the lower ground, residents’ gym on the mezzanine, and a restaurant and shop, together with 50 flats with private roof terrace was given the green light by Hastings Borough Council.
However, after work was completed on the internal structure, the building was put back on sale for £1.5million and after a great deal of deliberations, surveys, tours and phone calls, 'WRNV' decided to make an offer.
It certainly seems longer than November 2018, which is only about 15 months ago.
But definitely longer than Valentine's Day 2019 which would be ridiculous.

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seahermit
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Re: Observer Building

Postby seahermit » Wed Feb 26, 2020 2:19 pm

Twelve different owners!! Hence my cynicism.

"However, after work was completed on the internal structure, the building was put back on sale for £1.5million and after a great deal of deliberations, surveys, tours and phone calls, ..." I wonder who exactly is paying for all this time, messing about, endless discussions and (so far) wasted effort. It is very likely that some of it has been funded out of Hastings BC's coffers (ours in fact!).

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Richard
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Re: Observer Building

Postby Richard » Wed Feb 26, 2020 4:21 pm

Two years ago the company unveiled plans to provide accommodation for 230 students, an art-house cinema and a shop/restaurant at the site.
But the application was withdrawn in May last year due to the decision by the University of Brighton to close its Hastings campus.
When the original proposals were first unveiled in 2015 they attracted heavy criticism from objectors, the main concern being over the addition of a seven-storey building on top of the existing structure.
Flint Development Group subsequently reduced the height in revised plans but eventually went back to the drawing board last year.
In the latest application, the height of the proposed development has been reduced by five metres, compared to the original plans.
However the latest plans, which were given approval at a council planning meeting on December 14, have still attracted opposition.
Objectors say the development will generate more traffic in the area, there was inadequate parking and that the number of proposed flats was too high.
They also said the proposed development was out of character for the surrounding area and dominated the skyline.

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seahermit
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Re: Observer Building

Postby seahermit » Wed Feb 26, 2020 8:02 pm

Richard, you are not getting the point - that this circus has gone on for a number of years and it seems to be the same old story. Various developers all hoping to make some bucks out of the site but, in every case, their proposals being wildly inappropriate for the locality and meeting fierce opposition.

To read through the history of the plans over the last few years is depressing and reflects why very little good, original and appropriate building development happens in Hastings.

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Richard
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Re: Observer Building

Postby Richard » Thu Feb 27, 2020 7:50 pm

The more recent vision for the Observer Building, however, was predicated on Brighton University – which had a campus in town – maintaining and growing its presence. But on account of low demand for its courses, it began a phased withdrawal from Hastings, which came as a great blow.
With the withdrawal of Brighton there were no obvious alternative uses for the space and with property values as low as they are in Hastings there isn't any investor appetite for luxury flats and therefore it makes little sense from a purely commercial perspective to develop property in Hastings because the returns are so much lower than they are elsewhere.
Small spaces in Hastings that would have been gobbled up by developers nearer to London, for example, are not touched by developers here because the returns are too low, hence only larger building projects stand a chance, when the equation of investment against returns are satisfied.
That surely is the point to understand!

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seahermit
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Re: Observer Building

Postby seahermit » Fri Feb 28, 2020 2:04 pm

You have in effect summarised the main problem with development in Hastings - that money rules. There is a desperate need for affordable housing (NOT luxury flats) in Hastings, as well as a good community space for creative arts activities. The OB is a big, very adaptable space in a convenient central location but Hastings council does not do things which benefit the community, only what reaps big financial returns. There is evidence of that everywhere, thus there are empty buildings in every street whilst the homeless remain homeless. Nothing changes.

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Richard
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Re: Observer Building

Postby Richard » Fri Feb 28, 2020 4:15 pm

A notable exception being the extensive £9.5m library refurbishment in Hastings, although that was an East Sussex County Council scheme and funding was most probably external.
Local councils don't have the money and they look to close down costly items such as the public conveniences that was located at Harold Place and attracted druggies and alcoholics.
Conservatives on the borough council put forward an amendment to the budget, calling for the town centre toilets in Harold Place to remain open, but failed....
Certain members on the council were more interested in the land the toilets are on, rather then having a central hub of toilets for the towns people and visitors.
Apparently there are plans in place to "regenerate" the land the block is on (another cafe or restaurant, like we need more in the area?).

A lot of the homeless are either taking drugs or alcohol or have mental health issues and if they have been kicked out of accommodation provided by Hastings Council, for bad behavior, then the council washes its hands of them and see that homelessness as self-inflicted.
Homeless people from outside Hastings are not helped instead they are referred back to places from whence they came for help.


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