Brighton and Hove is unaffordable, but famously Hastings and not so famous St Leonards has much to offer

Over the weekend I tweeted a couple of comments regarding Hastings and St Leonards. Increasingly over the last few years I have felt that the new “place to be” (which was once the slogan for Brighton and Hove) is now Hastings and St Leonards.

Don’t get me wrong, I live in Brighton and I love what the City has to offer. I would find it hard to move away, not least because my office is within walking distance of my home as is the home ground of Sussex County Cricket Club. Anyone who knows me will testify of my love of cricket, and I have been a member of SCCC for many years.

There’s a lot happening and London Road, Brighton, which is where the BHT head office is based. It is really the up-and-coming area of the city. Churchill Square and Western Road could be any shopping mall or high street in cities around the UK. London Road, on the other hand, is now at the cutting edge, benefiting from increasing costs in the North Laine and massive inward investment. It is really becoming a destination of choice for many people.

But if I were starting out again, looking to get a foot on the housing ladder, the last place I would look at would be Brighton and Hove. Property prices have reached stupid levels and will continue to rise as people are forced out of London and look to live within commuting distance of the capital.

But what this means is that local people, those setting out on their housing journey, and people not able to cash in on property prices in London, have little chance of getting anything affordable.

Yet just along the coast is Hastings and St Leonards. I feel that this area is on the cusp of greatness. It has changed beyond recognition in the last 10 to 15 years, with huge amounts of modernisation happening in Hastings town centre. St Leonards, on the other hand, has amazing charm, and if it was in the North Laine of Brighton, would be one of the most sought after areas in the City. Streets such as Kings Road, with charming shops and even a vegan restaurant (not my personal cup of tea) would be heaving with locals and tourists alike. What you might pay silly money for in Brighton, is affordable in St Leonards.

If you haven’t done it recently, I suggest having a day trip to Hastings and St Leonards. Get off the train (it is worth getting the train rather than driving) at St Leonards Warrior Square station, walk down Kings Road, enjoy a brunch in the Love Café at the bottom of London Road (just into Norman Road), and then stroll along the seafront. You will find some amazing teashops and restaurants, not least Café des Arts in Robertson Street.

The area has some challenges, and if you did choose to live or move your business there, there are some social problems that are still part and parcel of the town. It is a very mixed community, which is one reason I like it so much.

If you don’t believe me, have a look at the Famously Hastings website. Hastings first became famous for 1066 and all that. But Hastings should be famous for a lot more. St Leonards, on the other hand, is its best kept secret, but one that should not be allowed to remain secret any more.


11 thoughts on “Brighton and Hove is unaffordable, but famously Hastings and not so famous St Leonards has much to offer

  1. It is a fab place to be, we looked at Brighton when looking to the south coast but the charms of Hastings won us over. Too many drunks in Brighton these days sort of burst its bubble for us. I like that Hastings is just that little bit more inaccessible to the hoi-polloi. The blight of London has turned, and is turning, more of our accessible towns and villages into dormitories for commuters. This has an homogenising effect, as you mention about Brighton’s main shop areas, and often removes the local charm and character and individuality of these backwater towns. I know the pace of progress cannot be slowed but one cannot help feeling for a time when everything did not have to cater to the masses. Hastings only reprieve will come when the economy goes pair shaped (inevitable! . . . maybe) and any grand designs to improve its transport links are shelved as has happened in times gone by.

  2. We Live in St.Leonards having moved here from London some 14 years ago. We were able to buy a lovely house that would have cost us in the region of one million plus in London or even Brighton. It’s a wonderful diverse place to live with lovely friendly people, plenty of restaurants and entertainment. Sure there are areas that need up-grading, but where doesn’t. Wouldn’t want anywhere else.

  3. As the blogger points out it’s a good spot, St Leonards is not perfect but is coming along and in the last five years or so, I feel, has come a long way. Luckily this has not prompted the usual hike in rental and buy prices and you can still find 2 bed rentals for £600pcm or less and flats for around the £100k mark. Rail transport is OK, although we do seem to have more than our fair share of engineering works. London via Gatwick is about 2 hours, London via Tunbridge is about 90 minutes. Oddly, it will take 85 minutes to reach Brighton due to frequent “branch line” stops. I think it’s a good option and the place can only get better.

  4. I’m a fifth generation Britionian and the last of the family to leave the town. I now live in a great area of Hastings (West Hill) and pay the same rent I did in Brighton 23 years ago.

  5. Beware! The Hastings curse does exist! trust me once you’ve lived here you will never truely move away, Hastings will be a part of you and will stay in your heart forever; for the community vibe if nothing else.. well done Hastings/St Leonards! it’s a pleasure living there!

  6. Dear lord, do you not notice the inherent stupidity of this idea?

    There are people living here already Andy, people beset by a broad array of social problems and with considerably lower purchasing power than those you’re exhorting to come over. What you’re encouraging people to do is to come over and force the locals out of this “place to be”.

    Surely someone in charge of a charity like BHT must think about the knock-on effects? Hastings has the lowest average weekly wage of any town in the UK. Currently though, owing to the influx of Londoners and Brightonians, we currently have the highest rising rental and property prices in the south east. Something about that doesn’t make sense, right?

    If the property prices in Brighton are forcing people who work in Brighton to buy elsewhere then perhaps you influential Brightonians should do something about that problem locally? Work with your council to get more housing built perhaps? or to introduce rental caps or landlord licensing maybe? Or to get them to take a serious look at the dodgy tactics being employed by property developers there and in London?

    Do whatever you can Andy, and I’m sure a man like you can do a fair bit, but please let’s not just knock the problem onto the long-suffering residents of Hastings and St Leonards.

  7. My apologies, you are right of course, it’s lovely here, but that will soon change if us locals are forced into ever smaller and more expensive rental properties as our dream of ever getting on the ladder gradually dwindles. That’s the fate that’s befallen Brighton, please don’t bring it here.

  8. I moved down from East London a couple years ago and I haven’t looked back.
    I don’t earn a huge wage that is why I moved here, it is the last bastion of affordability in the South. I was initially concerned by all of the negative press that the town was getting but honestly it is the best town anyone can live in, I know everyone on my street and rarely lock my front door, it is like going back in time to when communities really existed, it is really like East London was 50 years ago but please don’t come here looking for cheap housing, come here if you want to be part of a community and you are an artist, musician or alternative, don’t come here if you are going to get the 07.05 every morning and then want a high street the same as every where else.

    • “you are an artist, musician or alternative, don’t come here if you are going to get the 07.05 every morning and then want a high street the same as every where else.”
      Don’t be such a bloody snob. All sorts of different people do a 9 to five. open you mind.! I find most so called ‘alternative’ people painfully conventional once you go deeper than appearances.

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