Published March 27 2018
The sorry saga of the North Queesnway Innovation Park continues. Nearly three years ago, SeaChange announced that it had finally found an occupier for the site.
The occupier was Michael Tyler Furniture Ltd, and the development would be ‘an approximately 30,000 sq ft single-storey building including workshops, a showroom, offices, a staff common room, canteen and car park’. The fact that the tenant would be moving from elsewhere in Hastings, and creating no new jobs, failed to dampen SeaChange’s excitement.
By the following May – but with no sign of work beginning on the site – another occupier was found. This time, SeaChange were more coy about it, submitting a planning application but failing to send out a press release or mention it on their website.
Their reluctance to shout the news from the rooftops may have been explained by the fact that the proposed tenant was Bartletts Seat, a car showroom currently situated rather inconveniently bang on the route of the Queensway Gateway road. So rather than choosing to move to North Queensway because it was such a wonderful site, the company was being forced to move. No new jobs were to be created by the move, although SeaChange stated rather hopefully in the planning application (p16) that:
‘In total the proposed development will result in around 20 jobs. Whilst it is acknowledged that these jobs already exist in Hastings at Bartlett SEAT’s existing showroom, the proposed development will enable these jobs to remain in Hastings.’ (emphasis added)
So now SeaChange was claiming credit for 20 jobs that already existed. When it was first proposed, North Queensway was forecast to create 865 jobs. With the first two tenants confirmed, and not a single new job between them, things were looking decidedly grim.
But now it’s just got worse. At the South East Local Enterprise Partnership strategic board meeting in March 2018, members were told that one of those tenants (it doesn’t say which) has now pulled out because it ‘requires a larger facility than can be provided on this site’.
Which is rather odd: did they not know how big the site was when they said they’d take it? Or is there something else going on? It doesn’t quite smell right.
The report tries to put a gloss on the unglossable, saying that :
Although good new [sic] for the local economy and job creation this site will now require further marketing.
Given how long SeaChange has been marketing it already, and the abject failure to find tenants, it doesn’t seem very likely that they’re going to find a replacement anytime soon.