Who are White Rock Neighbourhood Ventures?

White Rock Neighbourhood Ventures (WRNV) emerged from years of sustained local community engagement, first around Hastings Pier and then focusing on the rest of the White Rock neighbourhood and particularly the area around the Alley behind Claremont.

WRNV is a joint venture between three social enterprises brought together in summer 2014 by serial community entrepreneur Jess Steele OBE. WRNV is the owner and developer of Rock House (Cambridge Road), a successful conversion of a run-down 9-storey office block into a creative and collaborative, mixed-use, capped rent hub which now houses 45 businesses and 10 residents.

We are now developing the Observer Building.

What are the plans for the Observer Building?

The Observer Building (OB) is a landmark property with a grand façade that was designed by local architect Henry Ward and built in 1924 as the print works and offices for the Hastings & St Leonards Observer owned by F J Parsons Ltd.

It comprises 4,000 sq.m of industrial floor space over seven floors. The structure is of reinforced concrete frame design with steel frame to the uppermost level.

The building has been in a state of dereliction and decay for 34 years. This rotting hulk has overshadowed the neighbourhood, dragging down economic value and disheartening businesses and residents who try to make a genuine investment in this very special part of our town.

White Rock Neighbourhood Ventures, now the owner and developer of Rock House, want to put this right with five goals that will fill the OB with life and create a flagship community asset.

  1. Locally-driven development, sharing the benefits locally and equitably
  2. Securely capped rents for homes and workspace to protect the soul of our neighbourhood.
  3. Nurturinglocalcreativityandenterprisewithqualityaffordablehomesand workspaces.
  4. Offering life-changing opportunities responding to local need and giving chances to those at risk of exclusion.
  5. A self-renovating neighbourhood using inclusive bottom-up, sustainable approaches to neighbourhood development.

The success of Rock House has shown that it is possible to create a new kind of ‘product’ in Hastings for which there is significant latent demand.

“The success of Rock House is about the synergies created when a diverse group of people and organisations live and work together with shared principles and a common purpose. The building has evolved with its occupants. Together we have created a positive, dynamic and creative environment that people want to be a part of.” – Casper, Rock House tenant

The OB adds massive scale: its footprint, surfaces and volume make it the most impactful building in the neighbourhood. Our development of it will add new elements of leisure and learning to the mix of uses, expanding and deepening the positive impact for Hastings.

What’s happening right now?

There will be a phased approach to building works. This year we the team are completing concrete repairs and initial renovations to make part of the building rentable, to include floor G, 1, 2 and 3.

From Monday 18 March for a period of 17 weeks there will be internal structural repair works happening in the Observer Building.

The noise will be kept to a minimum, during weekdays and working hours (8-5pm) only. The schedule of work is here for more information.

The renovation work will develop as tenants emerge and funding allows, with plans for renovating floor 2 and 3 to create 16 affordable homes, expected to start in mid-2021.

We’re using a team of local contractors including David Spooner (Construction Project Manager), Hastings Building Services (main contractor), Roger Bunney (Structural Engineer) and John Page (Quantity Surveyor). To minimise disruption to you and our existing tenants at Rock House, the team will be carrying out renovations that will make the building safe and habitable but which require the minimum possible intervention.

How can I find out more information?

We will keep you up to date on the timing and nature of building works throughout via a window display in the OB window on Cambridge Road and on this page. You can see more general information about who are and our plans for the Observer Building on the Our Plans and FAQ sections of our website.

How can I get in touch?

As our neighbours, we welcome your input and involvement. The White Rock Neighbourhood Ventures team are based at Rock House, 49-51 Cambridge Road, Hastings TN34 1DT so if you would like to have a face to face chat please come and see us.


For general enquiries (weekdays between the hours of 9-5):
Email –
Phone – 01424 230222

For emergency enquiries about the building site (24 hours), please phone our emergency line on 01424 234 723