We are concerned residents of Hastings and St Leonards, who see the huge amount of public money poured into SeaChange Sussex to create ‘regeneration’ in our town. Some SeaChange projects have been successful but others are little short of disastrous. There is no official follow-up to see whether the projects produced the jobs and economic benefits claimed for them, and no accountability when they demonstrably fail to do so.
We would not dispute that Hastings and St Leonards have many problems in terms of social deprivation, unemployment and economic insecurity. However, we do not believe these problems are best addressed by building more and more expensive business parks with public money.
In recent years, SeaChange Sussex (or its precursor, SeaSpace) has built two business parks locally – Enviro 21 and North Queensway – for which they appear totally unable to find occupiers. Despite this, they are pushing ahead with plans for two more sites – Bexhill Innovation Park and the Queensway Gateway development. By granting planning permission for these new sites without asking any questions about the previous ones, our local councils – Hastings Borough Council and Rother District Council – are colluding in the environmental destruction and waste of public money which these projects represent.
Our green spaces are being destroyed by this ‘build and the occupiers will come’ policy. Our public money – which could have been spent on community-based, sustainable regeneration projects such as reinvigorating our town centres or creating jobs aimed at reducing carbon emissions – is being wasted. SeaChange is continuing to make claims for job creation which are completely incredible.
Isn’t it time for some real change?