Tilekiln Playing Fields
Hastings Borough Council has decided not to proceed with the sale of Tilekiln Playing Fields (the 'Helipad') for a new football stadium, as proposed by Hastings United FC.
The plan was discussed at a Cabinet meeting in 2018 when it was agreed to look into the plans in detail, and to ensure they met certain criteria before a sale could be agreed. Since then both the club and the Council have spent a lot of time considering how this might work. The club meanwhile submitted planning applications for both Tilekiln and a housing scheme at Pilot Field in 2020, even though there were outstanding issues to be agreed before Hastings Borough Council could commit to the sale of Tilekiln.
Since these discussions started, the Council has declared a Climate Emergency and has also had to rethink priorities after two years of the COVID-19 pandemic. As a result, it has been decided that protecting our green spaces for open and free community access is vital, and that the needs of the local community in Hollington who currently use the fields year round for recreation, dog walking and sports is paramount.
It is hoped that the new partnership with the Football Foundation will secure investment in the three grass pitches at Tilekiln, and that further detailed work can be done to examine what is needed to support Hastings United remaining at Pilot Field. The existing ground is owned by Hastings Borough Council, and the council is keen to demonstrate support for the club by seeking external funding to improve facilities there.
Cllr Paul Barnett, Deputy Leader of the Council, said: "The world has moved on since we started talking about this four years ago, and our priority now has to be to protect and invest in our green spaces, and wherever possible reuse existing buildings rather than build new ones. This means ensuring that Tilekiln, a well-used and popular community facility, is preserved for the people of Hollington.
"We realise how disappointing this will be for Hastings United, and those of their supporters who are keen to see a better ground. We admire the work they have done on the pitch over the last two or three years, including starting an excellent women's team, and expanding their community coaching. So we hope to find other ways of supporting the club, and will be seeking an early meeting with them to look in detail at what is needed to improve Pilot Field so that their growing attendances can attend matches in comfort.
"Sport is an important element in improving people's health, and post pandemic, we want to see improved facilities in the centre of our town that are easily accessible to all. So we are in discussion with a range of partners about how best to do this, and will be announcing new plans for investment soon."