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Priory Square: a second university building in the centre of Hastings

Construction of a second university building

Published January 2011

The creation of a second set of premises for the University of Brighton in Hastings marks a significant milestone for higher education in the area. The development scheme sees the renovation and extension of the 1930s Post Office building in Hastings' Priory Quarter education and business district.

Demolition of the poor quality 1960s rear extension to Hastings' Post Office began in February 2010 to make way for the new university facility. Once the final piece of the extension was dismantled, McLaren Construction became the main contractor to build the new facility.

The second facility will be an impressive, twenty-first century learning environment. It will more than double the capacity of the current university building - whose existing premises are now full - to over 1,000 student places.

The project is managed by Sea Space, the company set up by the South East England Development Agency (SEEDA) and its partners to deliver economic development in the Hastings area.

To support the area's business community, the new facility will enable the expansion of University of Brighton in Hastings courses as well as the student population. It will incorporate a suite of laboratories and place a particular emphasis on science.

The new six-floor, 3,770m2 university building will have its main entrance from the town's recently created Priory Square. It will complete the enclosure of this public space by adding an impressive civic façade on the south side, complementing the One Priory Square offices on the north side and a new restaurant to the east. 

The Post Office will remain unchanged, in full operation on the ground floor of the building. The architecturally-notable façade will be cleaned and repaired. To create the new teaching premises, the vacant upper floors will be renovated and high quality new construction will replace the demolished rear extension, forming three sides around a central atrium.

The project is backed by funding from the South East England Development Agency (SEEDA), the University of Brighton - supported by the Higher Education Funding Council for England (HEFCE) - and bank financing.  

Pam Alexander, Chair of the Hastings & Bexhill Task Force and CEO of SEEDA, comments: "We opened University Centre Hastings only in 2003 to deliver higher education to Hastings for the first time and its success has been inspiring. The opportunities it offers to local people are a core part of the economic development programme for the area. It's heartening that the existing premises are now full, with strong links forged with the local business community. The second University building will meet the burgeoning demand for student places, providing new courses which increase people's skills and help them to find work. An increasingly skilled workforce is already contributing to the expansion of local businesses and attracting new companies to the area - a win-win for the people of Hastings and the local economy." 

Councillor Peter Jones, Leader of East Sussex County Council, comments: "University Centre Hastings has proved a big success story. Demand for places has been high and many local people have benefited from higher education, which they previously hadn't even thought was an option. By doubling student capacity with this wonderful new facility, we'll make sure an even larger proportion of the community has access to such a life-changing opportunity."