£350,000 Disbursed (2019)
The Observer Building was built in 1924 and for more than sixty years served as the headquarters and printworks for the Hastings and St Leonards Observer. Designed by local architect Henry Ward, it is an imposing building with a grand façade and holds approximately 42,500 sq. feet of industrial floor space over seven floors. In February 2019, White Rock Neighbourhood Ventures (WRNV) purchased the iconic building to transform it into a workspace for local enterprises and start-ups. This important initiative will create up to 300 jobs and 16 affordable homes in Hastings, a coastal town with high levels of economic and social deprivation where jobs and accessible housing are consistently in short supply.
The Observer Building is the second regeneration project of WRNV, a joint venture between Meanwhile Space CIC and Jericho Road Solutions Ltd. The organisation has been developed to transform unused assets of significant historic value into sites delivering valuable social and economic benefits to the local community. Alongside other social investors, including Ecology Building Society and Big Issue Invest, the AHF assisted WRNV with a loan of £350,000 for project management and the completion of Phase 1 of their capital works. This loan, made through the Heritage Impact Fund, provided the Observer Building project with the necessary capital to access further funding and achieve self-sufficiency and their ultimate goal of regeneration-led social impact.