Saturday 5th April saw me donning a smart-casual outfit to talk to interested members of the public about our proposals prepared and exhibited at the 2014 So Create A Difference event, this year entitled SoCAD Hastings.
SoCAD was the brainchild of an architect and an Environmental Consultant in Tunbridge Wells and was set in motion to help demonstrate public support for the improvement of select areas in the town to the town council, such that the council might dive in and take control of improving those areas. The idea gained an unexpected level of momentum when the Royal Institute of British Architects (RIBA) agreed to provide funding and marketing support and the event, held in January 2013, attracted a high level of public interest.
Later in 2013, the possibility to bring the event to my home town of Hastings was explored and taken forward such that February 2014 saw around 20 architects submit their proposals for improving areas of the town, in time for the exhibition on the 5th April.
My vision for the town, described as slightly ‘bonkers’, was borne out of frustration at one of the towns most important features, the beach and seafront, being severed from the town by a pedestrian-unfriendly trunk road. In addition, not being able to enjoy a coffee with a friend in a cafe on the seafront without having to talk over the constant drone of traffic was made worse by the fact that we were trying to enjoy the coffee at 11am on a Sunday morning.
The vision is to pedestrianise a stretch of the seafront such that a linear park is formed, connecting Hastings and St Leonards and providing additional space for the bars, cafes and restaurants to spill out closer to the beach. Included are proposals to provide a tram link along the seafront, to connect pearls of interest along the seafront such as the Jerwood Gallery in the Old Town, the new pier and Marina Lido in St Leonards. The images below are a selection of those from the exhibition.
All in all the day was thoroughly enjoyable and the comments received were positive and one hopes that the event will lead to equally positive action by the town council. In the meantime, this written message, provided by one of the attendees during a brainstorming session, provides a heartwarming and uplifting message, and one which made the day worthwhile.