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The Frederick Road site, where GemSelect wants a high-density development with 800 dwellings.

The Frederick Road site, where GemSelect wants a high-density development with 80 dwellings.

Action group mobilises to oppose Gemselect’s high-density housing plans for the Ore Valley

Ore Valley Action is mobilising support to oppose plans for a high-density housing project off Frederick Road in the Ore Valley. A meeting will be held on 2 December to inform the local public what the plans entail. Nick Terdre reports.

The plans have been drawn up by Gemselect for the former site of Mount Pleasant hospital, an area bounded by Frederick Road to the east and Farley Bank to the south. According to the Local Plan the 1.84-hectare site is suitable for 40 dwellings, but Gemselect has notified Hastings Borough Council of its intention to build 80.

Some of the dwellings form a four-storey block of flats overlooking the site on higher ground at the eastern end. The high density would mean high additional levels of traffic – 100 vehicles – leaving and entering the site at what is already a dangerous junction where Oakfield Road runs into Frederick Road, say campaigners from Ore Valley Action, which opposes the development.

The former Stills site, where GemSelect plans another high-density development.

The former Stills site, where GemSelect plans another high-density development.

A similar high-density approach has also been proposed by the developer for the former Stills site off Fellows Road in the lower Ore Valley. Here they are looking to build 103 houses and flats, 37% more than the 75 indicated in the Local Plan.

“In both cases they are way over the design brief dwelling numbers and in the [Frederick Road] case they do not even respect the Ore Valley Greenway route which has been adopted into the Local Plan and the site design brief,” Ian Sier, a spokesman for OVA, told HOT.

“Even more disturbing and, very sadly, so typical of the way planning has been carried out in Hastings for at least the last 40 years, the planning officers seem to be willing to support the developers and not the principles and site specifications in the Local Plan. Certainly that is what became clear to me at both of the Pre Application Forums for the two sites.”

Quite a few local residents attended these forums last month, according to Mr Sier. “There was horror  at what the site development would look like,” he said. “The plans were robustly criticised by several speakers, as was the apparent support or justification from the senior planning officer.”

Gemselect’s case

Gemselect director Gordon Ritchie defended the proposals. “As was discussed at our recent Planning Forums, we are providing both sites with densities that are in accordance with Hastings Borough Council’s current Local Plan Policy H1 which requires densities of at least 40 dwellings per hectare in sustainable locations with good access to public transport and local facilities including, specifically, Ore,” he told HOT.

“We are proposing to provide densities of around 42-44 Units per hectare for each of our two sites in Ore. The Units proposed are mainly smaller two-bedroom properties which allows these minimum densities to be achieved.

“National Policy also requires optimum use to be made of these types of development sites. This reflects the scarcity of land in and around Hastings and the need to minimise the land take of greenfield sites. Our Development proposals have been carefully designed so they are in line with these and other planning requirements.

“These are challenging brownfield sites which have remained undeveloped for years. There was quite a lot of positive feedback from residents of Hastings that some much needed local housing is now going to be made available.”

OVA origins

OVA was launched in 2006 to campaign against the high-density housing proposals in the SeaSpace (now Sea Change Sussex) Millennium Regeneration plans for Ore Valley and, in particular, to oppose the Bellway development plans for the Frederick Road site, which in Mr Sier’s words were “truly dreadful!”

The campaign was successful in that the global financial crash, the collapse of land values and the overheated building of flat blocks that could not be sold caused the SeaSpace project to be abandoned, he said.

OVA’s other aim was to protect Speckled Wood, which runs through part of the upper Ore Valley, from development. This has largely been achieved, with the wood now redesignated as protected green space. Work relating to Speckled Wood has been taken over by Ore Community Land Trust.

The Frederick Road site as shown in the Local Plan.

The Frederick Road site as shown in the Local Plan.

OVA, which has continued to exist although operating at a much lower level of activity in recent years, is the right organisation to take up the campaign against bad planning decisions and over-development in the Ore Valley area, Mr Sier says. It is not opposed to development as such but to inappropriate schemes.

Following a relaunch, initially by a group who are also involved in Ore CLT, OVA plans to expand its membership across the Ore Valley over the next few weeks and months.

“There will certainly be a strong public campaign to oppose the development plans, demand that the principles of the Hastings Local Plan are respected and defended and insist on effective road safety measures in Frederick Road,” Mr Sier said.

“At the end of the day, however, it will be an important test of the resolve of councillors on the planning committee to respect community views and defend their own Local Plan.”

Public Information Event on Gemselect’s development proposal for the Frederick Road site. Saturday 2 December, 10.30am-12.30pm, Salvation Army Hall, 414 Old London Road, Ore TN35 5BB.

 

Posted 11:47 Wednesday, Nov 22, 2017 In: Home Ground

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