Connecting Hastings and Rother Together (CHART) Community Led Local Development (CLLD) Programme is delivering the CHART CLLD Local Development Strategy to support projects that bring a fresh approach to tackling deep-rooted problems in deprived communities within Hastings and Bexhill. The Programme uses European Structural and Investment Funds.

We’re grateful to the fantastic group of lenders and social investors supporting us with the purchase and renovation of the Observer Building:

Ecology Building Society lent us £1.2 million for the purchase as a mortgage secured on Rock House.

Jon Lee, Business Development Manager, Ecology Building Society said,

“Ecology specialises in supporting community groups with sustainable aims and we are delighted to have helped White Rock Neighbourhood Ventures with a financing solution to meet its ambitions to grow their network of community-led spaces in the White Rock area.    

This substantial mortgage facility is a key step to enabling the acquisition and development of the iconic Observer Building in Hastings, securing its future with a mix of affordable housing, co-working, leisure and collaborative development space, rooted within and for the community.”

Big Issue Invest lent us £150k, amortised over 15 years, to be refinanced between May 2020 and Feb 2022. 

The team at Big Issue Invest said:

‘Big Issue Invest (BII) aims to extend The Big Issue’s mission of dismantling poverty by financing the growth of social enterprises and charities across the UK. We were proud to assist White Rock Neighbourhood Ventures with the transformation of Rock House in Hastings four years ago, and we’re delighted to extend our support to this year’s purchase of the Observer Building.

Big Issue Invest is committed to using our funds to unlock other sources of funding. By providing a flexible finance solution to drive the early development phase of this project, we hope to attract other much needed investment and thereby enable this iconic space to serve the needs of its community, and support the wider regeneration of Hastings.’

Castlestone Investments has lent £200k to be refinanced in May 2023.

Sean Lask commented,

“Castlestone Investments acquires and develops commercial and residential properties for residential use. Properties range from houses, industrial buildings, retail and offices. They may be derelict, occupied or empty. Our interest in the Observer Building stems from our desire to combine development with making a social and economic impact and leaving a legacy for the benefit of the local community.

I am thrilled to be co-investing in the regeneration of the Observer Building and helping its transformation into a thriving community hub and employment generator. I am also excited at the prospect of working with Jess Steele and her team who have already made a positive impact on the local community with the development of the adjacent Rock House building.”

Hastings Borough Council have granted us £5k to contribute to the interest repayments on the loans.

Via the Stalled Sites Fund, East Sussex County Council have awarded us a grant of £45,000.

The Co-op Foundation lent us a £50,000 interest-free loan and a £40,000 grant.

Jim Cooke, Head of the Co-op Foundation, said:

“Places and spaces for people to come together and enjoy shared interests are vitally important for building stronger communities. Our funding for the Observer Building, in Hastings, will help turn a derelict former icon into a vibrant community hub, and put co-operation at the heart of improvements by training local people to build and sustain a community space that works for them.”

The REACH Fund provided a grant of £20,000.

Deborah Smart, Head of Programmes (Grants), Reach Fund, said:
We are pleased to have been able to award a Reach Fund grant to White Rock Neighbourhood Ventures. We very much hope that support the grant provides helps to raise the investment needed to secure the Observer Building for the community of Hastings

The Architectural Heritage Fund provided a loan of £350,000.

Commenting on the investment, Matthew Mckeague, CEO of the AHF said: “The Observer is a landmark building in Hastings and we were excited by the WRNV vision for both the building itself but also the wider town and the project’s place within it. Despite the undoubted challenge generated by Covid 19, we know projects like this are going to be vital to the future regeneration of town’s Hastings and we are pleased to help it move forward.”