SeaChange Sussex is a ‘not-for-profit economic development company’ for East Sussex. According to its website, it is ‘working to expand the area’s economy and generate jobs by attracting successful employers and enabling local firms to grow’. To that end, SeaChange has a ten year development programme, running to 2022 and focussing on Hastings, Bexhill and Eastbourne. Its aim is to create 900,000 sq ft of commercial space and 6,000 jobs [see item 2.3] by 2022.
The projects featured on the ‘development programme’ page of SeaChange’s website are Priory Quarter, the Creative Media Centre, the Innovation Centre, North Queensway Innovation Park, the Bexhill Enterprise Park and Sovereign Harbour (Eastbourne). Notably absent from that page is the ill-fated Queensway Gateway Road, years late and massively over budget – it is on the website but you have to look a bit harder for it.
SeaSpace is replaced by SeaChange
Before we had SeaChange, we had SeaSpace, which completed its ten year ‘regeneration’ programme in 2011 but is still trading. Whilst they are separate companies, SeaSpace and SeaChange have a great deal in common, notably their director, John Shaw, and many of the board members. You can see SeaSpace’s board members here and SeaChange’s here (note that both companies are listed under their trading names, Hastings and Bexhill Renaissance Ltd for SeaSpace, and East Sussex Energy Infrastructure and Development Ltd for SeaChange).
SeaSpace was responsible for many projects in Hastings town centre, as well as some of the business parks which SeaChange took over, including Enviro 21 and North Queensway. It had over £100m in funding, much of it from the South East Economic Development Agency (SEEDA), one of nine Regional Development Agencies set up in 1998 and abolished in 2012, when they were replaced with Local Enterprise Partnerships.
How much money?
How much money SeaChange has been given for ‘regeneration’ projects is almost impossible to quantify as it has come from lots of different sources – central government, the Local Enterprise Partnership, East Sussex County Council – over a period of many years. Certainly it is well into tens of millions of pounds. Could that money have been better spent than on big-ticket, often unsuccessful, ‘regeneration’ projects? We certainly believe that to be the case.