Hastings & St. Leonards on-line community newspaper

Visual display protest on the old bathing pool site in 2013. A similar event is now planned for next Saturday (photo: Christine Boulton-Lane).

Protest and petition against HBC’s bathing pool site scheme

Local community groups are planning a public protest against the large housing estate planned by the council on the old bathing pool site in West St Leonards next weekend, and will deliver a petition in support of their case to the Full Council meeting in mid December. Nick Terdre reports.

Local community groups Save Our Bathing Site (Sobs) and West Marina Group will hold a protest on Saturday 5 December on the site of the old bathing pool in West St Leonards where Hastings Borough Council plans to build 152 housing units.

The act will involve a visual display with hundreds of small flags representing the signatories to a petition organised by the two groups. The display will be mounted during the morning and according to the organisers is expected to be complete by midday. While large gatherings are banned under current Covid-19 restrictions, members of the public are welcome to come along and view it.

The petition, which was started in June “out of sheer frustration,” according to Bryan Fisher, media coordinator of West Marina Group, had by this weekend attracted almost 1,400 signatories. It will be presented to HBC’s Full Council meeting on Wednesday 16 December by Sobs’ member Lucie Mason. A separate HBC petition which is now closed attracted 268 signatories while 536 have signed a paper petition which is still on the go.

“We really hope Lucie’s brief speech will engender a meaningful discussion, but past behaviour by HBC suggests we should not hold our breath!” Fisher said.

Campaigners’ frustration stems from what they say is HBC’s refusal to engage with them in a meaningful discussion about the future of the bathing pool site. This is “the last green space linking the sea with the land and, as such, its future use should be leisure not housing,” Fisher said.

Hiding behind a mantra

“It is annoying that requests for HBC’s decision-makers to engage with local community groups in West St Leonards have been ignored, despite two very successful protest-gatherings on the site. Residents want justification for losing such a valuable coastal asset to housing, but it seems HBC just want to hide behind a mantra of ‘housing is the #1 priority’, rather than risk dialogue with its ratepayers.”

They also question what has happened to the signing of “terms of engagement” with the designated developer partnership of County Gate and Sunley, which has been “imminent” since the council first announced it two years ago.

Attempts to engage with the developer have also proved fruitless, Fisher reported: “…there has been no real contact, only the odd acknowledgement or two of emails and letters sent.” He questions whether they are still interested in developing the site, in view of the difficulties it presents, such as the site’s designation as a flood plain.

Leaked documents indicate that almost all the housing units would be part of five high-density, high-rise buildings. Ensuring stability for the construction of these buildings would add to the cost, which in turn would increase the likelihood that the developer would seek to be exempted from the requirement to include a quota of affordable homes. Instead they would seek to maximise profits by selling to ‘second-homers’ and Airbnb owners, Fisher said.

“HBC claims this would never be allowed but, like many other councils around the country, they will find they have little control once the plan is approved.”

The local community groups would prefer to see the site being developed for leisure and tourism purposes. “Being on the coast is a great asset to tourism and should be attracting far more visitors to enjoy Hastings and St Leonards,” Fisher said. “I appreciate the car parking charges do not help welcome visitors either, but there is potential and the Old Bathing Pool site should be part of that potential.”


Previous HOT article about Sobs petition.


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Posted 16:02 Sunday, Nov 29, 2020 In: Campaigns


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  1. Keith Piggott

    Again, I find myself in agreement with Bolshie, must be the Yorkshire in us.
    But I do recall being often taken to the Lido by my mother in the late 1940s, so perhaps sentiment too prefers not to see a housing estate on such an iconic site. If a new lido, or one proposed marina, or similar, are not feasible then I strongly believe St.Leonards’ historic seafront should be left open – not become a Costa Del Sol.

    Comment by Keith Piggott — Thursday, Dec 3, 2020 @ 08:54

  2. Bolshie

    It is really a sad situation when these HBC councillors do not have the decency to engage with SOBS who have made a great effort to represent what the people of the borough would like to see on this old bathing pool site.
    I fear the councils failure to engage in any dialogue is all down to their own agenda and intentions with this site and hence SOBS has been snubbed.
    I speak with some experience here having been an active part of two other local campaigns – Save the Archery Ground (STAG) relating to the old college redevelopment site. And save Robsack Meadow (took seven years) from development.
    With both these campaigns not once would HBC councillors engage in any dialogue or even a hint of support. In both cases Ward councillors stood back and turned their backs on us.
    The same can be said for the Save Ecclesbourne Glen campaign no convivial contact with HBC and its councillors.
    My point being SOBS is an issue of history repeating itself. Power to the people in the borough does not quite work sadly.

    Comment by Bolshie — Tuesday, Dec 1, 2020 @ 09:52

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