Monday, 20 June 2011

2066 and all that

Speaking at the opening of the new Stade cafe
What will Hastings and St Leonards look like in 50 years time – that was the theme of a seminar I chaired and addressed on 17th June. Hastings 2066 was the working title for the day and the task was to discuss how we might adapt to climate change and how individually and collectively we might make our contribution to limiting it.

The seminar’s thinking will feed into the drafting by the Autumn of a climate change action plan for the town which after wide consultation will be adopted in early 2012.

And the consultation needs to be wide. There were about 50 of us at the seminar, all interested and motivated people, several with real knowledge and expertise. But there were no young people there; not enough mainstream businesses or retailers and the community representation only came from certain parts of town – no-one from the Old Town or from the town centre.

But Hastings 2066 is just the sort of idea that really could inspire people especially younger people. So that’s the challenge for us.

Here are some the points I made about Hastings 2066

• Most of homes that will exist then are already here. We need a massive environmental retrofit. And not just for the 47% of private housing that is pre-1919 (the national figure is 25%) we need to transform those 1950s – 1970s social housing too.

• We need to ensure that newbuild meets the zero-carbon homes target and includes environmentally friendly microgeneration of electricity

• We have an ageing population now – we need mixed tenure/mixed size housing areas where different ages can live side by side and help with each others’ needs. Lifetime homes can allow us to stay put if we chose as our mobility and needs change (every door in every new home could be wide enough for a wheelchair from the start)

• Today’s target is 200 new homes per year within the town up to 2028 but it may slow down thereafter. Will the surrounding area have to take up the slack?

• To meet these needs for new homes and new employment space between now and 2066 we will have to face the challenge of conserving everything or conserving the best. We are already talking of a world heritage site bid for Hastings Old Town

• Of course we will protect our Country Park, really develop the Pebsham Countryside Park and protect important urban green space. But are we prepared to accept the visual impact of major local power generation – wind turbines, solar farms or tidal power

• Well before 2066 Hastings must become a zero waste community – recycling food waste, wood, glass etc

• Transport to and within the borough has to be transformed – of course better opportunities for walking and cycling but what about electric vehicles, light rail or tracked hovercraft and what about reducing the need to travel

• How will we adapt to the threat of rising sea levels – a restored Pier, the Stade development, the opportunities at West Marina and many of our own homes mean we have to hold the line but that comes at a cost

• Won’t we increasingly be enjoying E-living between now and 2066? Tele-care can transform people’s ability to stay in their own homes as their care needs change; live/work homes change lifestyles for some, internet shopping, E-learning, E-democracy, virtual meetings are all on the agenda now

• Will the spread of nanotechnology really allow for ‘pollution free’ manufacturing

• Increasingly we are already facing impermanent employment with the need for adaptable skills during all of our lifetimes

• If there will be increased leisure won’t there be a opportunity for Hastings with its art, culture, heritage although tourism of course means travel!

• Socially we must narrow the income and social divide, everyone must feel an equal responsibility for the town’s (the country’s, the planet’s) future and we must end the digital divide

• I look forward to a town in 2066 of community stakeholders all with the time, interest and opportunity to participate in planning its progress.

Is all that wildly idealistic or hopelessly moderate? This debate is for everyone. Join in now and certainly participate in the climate change action plan consultation.