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...as Dunnett wins battle for MBM's Hastings overhaul

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The seaside town of Hastings is to receive a massive injection of money and a root-and-branch regeneration scheme, thanks to a far-reaching SEEDA initiative.

SEEDA chief executive Anthony Dunnett has been busy with planning minister Lord Falconer in a series of meetings to win his approval for a £400 million overhaul of the south-coast town.

And the AJ understands that New Labour is keen to hold up the Hastings model as an exemplar for other seaside settlements whose best days are perhaps behind them and where social deprivation has taken hold.

The initiative is backed by a masterplan drawn up by David Mackay of MBM Arquitectes in Barcelona and produced with financial input from developer Roger Zogolovitch in just four weeks.

Central to the early ideas is a vision to create a University of Brighton outpost, while another is an internal waterspace for boating near a Site of Specific Scientific Interest to link Hastings with its neighbouring areas, such as Bexhill.

The plan seeks to tackle deprivation in the region through a five-pronged approach. Dunnett wants to tackle the region's connectivity in transport and in terms of IT capabilities to try and attract businesses. He aims to cut rail journey times to London Bridge by 40 minutes, with better links to Ashford and the Channel Tunnel Rail Link, more connectivity to Gatwick and faster routes to Brighton. Broadband is on the agenda and the plan attempts to lessen the pressure on 'overheated' Brighton, while using education as a regeneration tool with new courses and the new university quarter of the new-look Hastings.

Another strategy is to create business hubs, and a large housing estate called Broomsgrove will undergo a major refurbishment, which could figure as part of a new Millennium Villages competition next month. Other Millennium Villages sites are thought to include Milton Keynes and Norwich. A new metro linking Hastings and Bexhill will also be part of the package.

Dunnett said the project is likely to cost £200 million over the next four years, and the same amount in the four years after that.

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