The ongoing transformation of Rock House in Cambridge Road from semi-derelict 1969 office block into a creative, collaborative, capped-rent mix of space for living, working and community action, takes another leap forwards this week with the announcement of just over £400,000 support from the Government’s Coastal Communities Fund.
Starting in October 2014, White Rock Neighbourhood Ventures, the social enterprise that owns the building, has converted two floors into creative workspace (Phase 1), then made six affordable apartments (Phase 2), then opened up Ground Control as community and enterprise space (Phase 3). Now they’re heading into Phase 4 which is to completely refurbish the Lower Ground and, especially the Basement – a double height space that leads out into Rock Alley. Funds will also be used to complete the 2nd and 6th floors where there are already tenants waiting to move in.
The Alley itself will benefit from £70,000 of basic refurbishment. Once known as dirty and dangerous , this unique urban space will be carefully renovated. WRNV director, Jess Steele, says: “The Alley is like something out of Manhattan or Melbourne. It’s a unique asset for Hastings and we want to make sure it can be used to its full potential for cultural and economic activity without sterilising it. The Alley isn’t actually owned by anyone but the various building owners have rights and responsibilities for it. We’ll be working collaboratively with all the owners and users to get the best outcome. MSL Projects in Rock House will be making a start with an exciting project, Storylines, planned for September as part of this year’s Coastal Currents Festival.”
The grant also includes funds for a feasibility study to extend Rock House upwards to create more affordable housing. The selection criteria for flats, as with the workspace, are NEED, ENTHUSIASM and CONTRIBUTION. So people must be in housing need but also really want to be part of and contribute to this exciting building and to the wider neighbourhood.