Hastings & St. Leonards on-line community newspaper
Construction on the Archery Ground is proceeding apace. This was the scene in July.

Construction on the Archery Ground is proceeding apace. This was the scene in September.

Archery Ground changes approved

Affordable housing provision in Hastings has taken a knock with the approval by the planning committee of an application to slash the quota on the Archery Ground development. Nick Terdre reports.

The number of affordable houses to be built as part of the redevelopment of the Archery Ground in St Leonards has been reduced from 68 to 28 following the unanimous approval by the planning committee of developer Gemselect’s latest application. In addition the number of dwellings to be converted in the listed terrace of Victorian buildings at the south of the site has been halved to 12.

At 28, the number of affordable houses is equivalent to 25% of the new total of 109 units in the development, and is thus compliant with council policy. As such, committee members saw no need to question the application, and appeared to share the view of the conservation officer that the switch from small flats to houses in the listed buildings was a positive development which would require less changes to be made to the buildings.

However, there was no discussion by the committee of the serious shortfall in the provision of affordable homes in the borough, or mention of the government’s encouragement to councils to ensure that more are built.

Houses take shape on West Hill Road.

Houses take shape on West Hill Road.

Nor did the developer give any reason why its housing association partner, Orbit Homes, wanted to take less. In its previous application, approved in 2016, Gemselect backed its request to increase the number of affordable units from 26 to 68 by making a full application supported by a viability assessment.

This time it sought to have its request dealt with as a minor material amendment to be decided by planning officers on their own. The case only ended up with the committee because of the number of objections. This was another angle which the committee members saw no reason to comment on.

With construction already well advanced, this will presumably be the last request from the developer to vary the amount of affordable housing and Section 106 contributions in lieu. These have yoyo’ed up and down – when planning permission was first granted in 2013, it called for 26 affordable units, equivalent to 21.5% of the total, plus Section 106 contributions of £161,000.

In the 2016 scheme, the number of affordable houses was raised to 68 (56%) and S106 contributions cut to zero. Now the scheme entails 28 units plus contributions of £156,000. The bulk of these, some £90,000, is strangely earmarked for equipment for nearby play spaces (it’s hard to think of any), £30,500 for local policing, nearly £29,000 for libraries (none known of in St Leonards) and £2,600 for public rights of way.

On the other hand, nothing has been allocated for improving the road system in the vicinity of the Archery Ground, including the narrow Archery Road which runs round most of the site.

As part of the changes approved in 2016 a number of features of the affordable housing were scrapped, saving money but reducing the quality of the buildings in the view of some critics. The current approval does not include the restoration of these features.

Meanwhile the council tells HOT it is still considering whether to take legal action against Gemselect for unauthorised works on protected trees on the site, which is a conservation zone.

Posted 09:01 Tuesday, Oct 23, 2018 In: Home Ground


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  1. ExTrucker

    Utterly spineless and contemptuous of the views of local people
    After a lifetime of supporting Labour I look forward to voting Green

    Comment by ExTrucker — Monday, Oct 29, 2018 @ 07:22

  2. Ms.Doubtfire

    Monitor Section 106 funds? You are having a laugh here Eye on the Ball.
    Just read the above to discover which projects are earmarked to receive some of this money.
    As the writer of the article states – what nearby play spaces? Which libraries in St.Leonards? And what is this all about public rights of way? Who thought up these ideas on how to spend this money intended for serious benefit for the town? Another meeting of the Mad Hatters Tea Party committee?

    Comment by Ms.Doubtfire — Friday, Oct 26, 2018 @ 11:35

  3. Eye on the ball

    Very good article revealing the situation with the Archery ground. Will Orbit Homes be interviewed to explain the change in the number of homes they wanted to take? And is there anyway to monitor this section 106 spending?

    Comment by Eye on the ball — Thursday, Oct 25, 2018 @ 19:22

  4. Bolshie

    Good Point there Nick on the mention concerning Archery Road itself. I just cannot imagine how that road is really going to cope with some hundred or so vehicles that are likely to be attached to this site with the number of residents.
    Having lived on that very road for ten years it was often difficult when the college was operating.
    Narrow in places, a dog leg bend at one end and a restriction of 7.5 tonnes – though often ignored.
    The existing properties around this site are going to lose value, traffic noise will be increased all hours of the day. I do pity those who are living within eye shot of it

    Comment by Bolshie — Tuesday, Oct 23, 2018 @ 17:27

  5. Ms.Doubtfire

    Why is the council dragging its heels over unathorised tree works carried out by the developers of this site?
    Same old story – don’t step in until it is too late to halt the damage. This happened with the West Hill Road site – council well aware of the activites up there but seemingly unwilling to actually do anything about it. And when they did stir themselves, it was too late to save the wildlife, the trees and rare plants.
    There is something very wrong here.

    Comment by Ms.Doubtfire — Tuesday, Oct 23, 2018 @ 16:14

  6. Zelly Restorick

    Our current planning system is surely:
    Not fit for purpose.
    Out of date.
    Un-common sensical.

    Bogged down in a system of such bureaucracy, red tape, policies and procedures, which:
    – must be the bane of those human’s lives, from whichever angle they approach a planning issue
    – many humans simply cannot understand, as the jargon-filled language is not accessible
    – sometimes aren’t adhered to anyway, when push comes to shove: we all know the rules can be bent at times, although understanding how and why is not something I declare knowledge of
    – can be followed by a mystery of unfathomable processes should any investigation be necessary/requested,
    – are therefore subject to change depending on the humans involved

    This current system – from all I read about and hear about from humans who are actively living/working/residing in the town – is simply no longer fit for purpose.

    It seems/feels like the voices of the humans – who want to preserve some of the magnificence in the town, the inherited beauty and charm and not replace it with sub-standard building materials and buildings – are not heard, listened to, acknowledged, respected and responded to in a fair way.

    It’s all about £££…
    I say this in a thoughtful, not accusatory way.
    All the humans involved are ‘just trying to keep their heads above the water’ – and we are all being told that ‘More £££’, ‘More Growth’ and ‘Accumulating Wealth’ are The Answers, when the answers and solutions are much more multi-faceted and multi-layered than that.

    Don’t forget: We have much richness and wealth and riches in this town and amongst its citizens.
    Beyond £££.
    The charm. The character. The charisma.

    If we make £££ the only priority, we’re doomed.

    Zelly Restorick

    Comment by Zelly Restorick — Tuesday, Oct 23, 2018 @ 12:45

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