Secretary of State Eric Pickles visits Hastings to see regeneration in action – and launch one of first Growing Places projects in country
Posted on: November 1, 2012
The Rt Hon Eric Pickles MP, Secretary of State for Communities & Local Government, today visited Hastings, East Sussex, for a first-hand look at the progress of the economic development programme for the area.
The Secretary of State:
- Officially launched the start of the next office development in Hastings town centre. This is the first scheme in the region to start backed by the Government’s Growing Places funds, which it received through the South East Local Enterprise Partnership (SELEP)
- Visited the University of Brighton’s new teaching building in Hastings, which is close to completion
- Met prominent local companies
- Officially opened the Sussex Exchange – the area’s new conference venue and restaurant
The Rt Hon Eric Pickles MP commented: “It’s exciting to see all the work under way to boost the local economy in Hastings. I was particularly pleased to witness the beginning of the new office development in Priory Quarter as it’s one of the first Growing Places funded projects to be put into action anywhere in the country. It’s great to see this investment translate into tangible building work so swiftly and I’m sure this will lead in turn to increased business activity and jobs in the near future.
“I also learnt a great deal from talking to local business people today. And I was delighted to be able to officially opening the Sussex Exchange as a much-needed conference venue and restaurant for the local business community and residents.”
Hastings’ next town centre development is a 24,500 sq ft high quality office scheme in the Priory Quarter business district. It is being created by economic development company Sea Change Sussex to attract companies to Hastings, following the regeneration partners’ recent office development which helped bring Saga into the town.
The new scheme is being financed by SELEP – a business-led body focusing on economic growth in East Sussex, Essex and Kent – using £7 million of Growing Places Funding, provided by the Department for Communities & Local Government. It is the first project backed by the Fund to get under way in the south east and one of the first in the country. Construction of the new offices is scheduled to be completed in 2014.
The University of Brighton’s new building in Hastings stands in Priory Square as an impressive twenty-first century learning environment. It is being created to double the University’s student capacity in Hastings, with an increased emphasis on commercial courses and science to support the local business community.
The Sussex Exchange is a new, contemporary, eco-friendly conference venue and restaurant in north-west Hastings. It has been created by Sea Change Sussex to serve the area’s business community as well as residents.
The Secretary of State met local company leaders in the venue’s Cinema auditorium to hear about their businesses. He then unveiled a plaque to declare the venue officially open. For more on the venue, see www.sussexexchange.co.uk.
Amber Rudd, MP for Hastings and Rye, comments: “It’s great to have so much support from Government for the regeneration of Hastings. I was delighted to have the opportunity to show Eric Pickles the excellent progress that we’re making to develop jobs and businesses in Hastings.”
Councillor Peter Jones, Leader of East Sussex County Council, remarks: “I’m delighted that Eric has taken the time to come to see at first hand the progress we are making in the economic regeneration of Hastings. We remain absolutely committed to delivering projects which will create jobs and growth for local people, and the Growing Places Funding we’ve secured for Priory Quarter will provide another important piece in the jigsaw in creating a central business district for Hastings town centre.”
SELEP chairman, John Spence, says: “Having one of the first schemes in the country with investment of Growing Places Funding demonstrates the extent of opportunity in the South East, and the commitment of the area to unlocking and accelerating growth. This is just one of 18 schemes the SE LEP is supporting through Growing Places Fund investment, which will unlock an estimated 43,000 jobs and almost 19,000 homes.
“Investment in schemes like Priory Quarter in Hastings plays a vital role in helping us achieve our ambition of creating the most enterprising economy in England.”
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Note: The South East Local Enterprise Partnership is a public-private partnership focused on creating the most enterprising economy in England. The LEP covers East Sussex, Essex, Kent, Medway, Southend and Thurrock. It is the country’s biggest non-metropolitan LEP representing a combined population of 3.9 million people. It is home to more than 130,000 businesses which provide over 1.3 million jobs and is a critical port and gateway area in a strategic location between London, Europe and the global economy. The SELEP area contributes £63 billion a year to the national economy.