About SeaChange Sussex
SeaChange Sussex is a ‘not-for-profit economic development company’ for East Sussex. According to their website, they are ‘working to expand the area’s economy and business community by attracting successful companies and enabling local firms to grow.’
To that end, SeaChange has a ten year development programme, running to 2022 and focusing on Hastings, Bexhill and Eastbourne. They are aiming to produce 900,000 sq ft of commercial premises in total, and ‘striving’ to create 6,000 jobs by 2022. Whether the area needs nearly a million square feet of commercial premises is debatable, given SeaChange’s failure to fill much of the space it has already developed. Whether pouring millions of pounds of public money into large infrastructure projects such as business parks is the best way to create jobs, or whether it is right to continue to destroy more and more of our green spaces for such sites, are questions which are never asked.
Seachange is funded almost entirely with public money, but how much is almost impossible to quantify as it comes from lots of different sources – central government, the Local Enterprise Partnership, East Sussex County Council. In addition, SeaChange has been allocated money for projects – notably Enviro 21 and North Queensway – which it has failed to complete, although it is not clear in these cases whether the money allocated was actually paid to the company.
SeaSpace morphs into SeaChange
Before we had SeaChange, we had SeaSpace, which completed its ten year ‘regeneration’ programme in 2011. Whilst they are separate companies, SeaSpace and SeaChange have a great deal in common, notably their director, John Shaw, and many of their board members. You can see SeaSpace’s board members here, and SeaChange’s here (note that both companies are listed under their trading names, Hastings and Bexhill Renaissance Ltd for SeaSpace, and East Sussex Energy Infrastructure and Development Ltd for SeaChange).
SeaSpace was responsible for many projects in Hastings town centre, as well as some of the business parks which SeaChange later took over. It had over £100m in funding, much of it from the South East Economic Development Agency (SEEDA), one of nine Regional Development Agencies set up in 1998 and abolished in 2012, when they were replaced with Local Enterprise Partnerships. Projects included Azur in St Leonards (which went into liquidation in 2011 owing £345,000 to SeaSpace, although carried on trading with different directors), the Sussex Exchange and the Enviro 21 business park in St Leonards.