The entrepreneurs taking over empty buildings as shops abandon the high street
Store closures are leaving space for start-ups to move into town centres, writes Hazel Sheffield
Hastings might be a small English seaside town but it has a wifi network to rival a smart city – thanks in part to local entrepreneurs who have turned a former office block into a state-of-the-art workspace.
In 2016 Ian McInnes, a co-founder of technology company Technology Box, was looking for new premises. He had moved the business he co-founded with his wife Rachel out of their home after they had two small children, and ended up in a co-working space called the Creative Media Centre, which had been established as a hub for IT businesses in Hastings and nearby St Leonards. But McInnes quickly became disillusioned with the space.
What he really wanted was a place to work that offered two simple services: space for his business to grow and super-fast internet. One day he met up with Jess Steele, a local activist who was involved in the campaign to save the Hastings Pier, to look round an old office building on the Trinity Triangle, a part of the town centre that has suffered from lack of investment, not long after the building had been successfully brought into community ownership under the name of Rock House.