The decision to sell the former power station site at Ore Valley to a private developer rather than to Heart of Hastings community land trust is finally sinking in for me, a fortnight after it was announced.
This is how I felt about the place in February 2017…
Ore Valley has been let down from above over and over again. We were determined not to do that but to work through the Bottom Up Development team and with an approach led by talking to local people, on site, at events around the area, online, and on their doorsteps.
Between then and April 2019 I spent about 250 hours on the site, out of over 1,000 hours of my time-sheeted work in relation to developing the project. Many others spent many more hours: building a stage, a pizza oven, a tea hut, a bike hut, a compost toilet, raised beds. Holding events that attracted 500+ people, doing woodland walks, cultivating mushrooms, clearing, planting, surveying, nurturing the land and each other.
And all the time, planning the most exciting regeneration project possible – one that finally learns the lessons of all the others, one that ‘ticks all the boxes’ not cynically but because it is holistic not piecemeal, one that fundamentally brings people and land back together to rescue each other. We had great support from funders National Lottery Community Fund, Big Local and Power to Change and we built a great partnership with Bioregional Homes.
And now, this…
Gut-wrenching, heart-breaking, skin-crawling.
Terrible process, terrible decision. And all in the name of “regeneration”.
Watching up close the asset-stripping and disempowerment of a place in the 0.5% poorest in the country is one of the most distressing experiences I’ve had or heard about in 30 years of watching some really bad regeneration in a lot of different places.
Ore Valley has great assets – people, land, nature – but the 40-year dereliction at its heart remains an apt metaphor for a gaping hole of power. How can we hope to ‘level up’ when these Reverse Robin Hoods are running the show?
#DIYRegen #OreValley #AskQuestions
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