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Only nature is thriving on the Archery Ground

Future of Archery Ground uncertain after Gladedale plans thrown out

Following the council planning committee’s decision to refuse approval for Gladedale’s development scheme for the Archery Ground in St Leonards, the future of the area remains undecided, writes Nick Terdre.

“Laing/Gladedale have six months in which to lodge an appeal,” said a spokesman for Stag – Save The Archery Ground – which led local opposition to the application. “If they do, given the scale of the application, it will probably take the form of a public inquiry. Then, Hastings Borough Council will have to defend the councillors’ decision to refuse planning consent.

“The developers could also submit a fresh planning application. If they do this, it would inevitably go before a public planning forum, similar to the one that was held for the West Marina development on the old bathing pool site,” the spokesman told HOT.

In the meantime the Archery Ground continues to be a dilapidated eyesore, and clearly will remain so for some time to come. That might have been the case even if planning permission been granted, given Gladedale’s financial difficulties – the group sold off its prestigious Edinburgh Quartermile project last January at a time when it was £475 million in debt to Lloyds Banking Group. Even if the scheme had been approved, it is possible the developer might have found it more attractive to sell on the site with planning permission than to try to raise finance to implement the scheme itself, thus further delaying any development.

Record opposition

The many delays in the application – Gladedale first sought planning permission back in 2009 – may not have worked in its favour, as it also gave time for opposition to mobilise and strengthen. In the end the application attracted a record 619 individual objections and four petitions – which many will consider a fine example of participatory democracy.

The swelling tide of protest appears to have cut little ice with the planning department, which allowed the developer to submit a number of amendments, in the process stretching the application period well beyond the normal period. It came as no surprise that the department eventually brought the case to the planning committee on 20 June with a recommendation to approve.

Committee chairman Godfrey Daniel was sympathetic to the application but found himself in a minority of two as the other eight committee members voted against it, citing eight points on which the application failed to measure up.

“Stag is delighted councillors rejected the current plans, citing the importance of the conservation area. But there is still a long way to go before the community gets a satisfactory resolution,” the Stag spokesman said. It plans to work with the local community “to get a plan which will suit our unique area and heritage,” and hopes to meet with Gladedale or its representatives to discuss how this can be done.


Posted 09:52 Monday, Jul 9, 2012 In: Campaigns

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