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Objectors to the Queensway Gateway Road being filmed by the BBC Photo CHDs

Objectors to the Queensway Gateway Road being filmed by the BBC (photo CHD).

Council planners vote for Queensway Gateway

Despite a packed-to-capacity public area downstairs at The White Rock Theatre, the majority of whom sounded and appeared to be in opposition to the Queensway Gateway Road, the council last night voted in favour of the plan. HOT’s Zelly Restorick reports. 

The road planning application was passed earlier this year by Hastings Borough Council’s planning committee, following which a local resident took HBC to the High Court on the grounds of unlawful levels of air pollution. HBC subsequently withdrew the plan – and last night Sea Change Sussex, represented by CEO John Shaw, put forward a revised plan with revised statistics. The number of cars predicted to use the road was lowered/recalculated/re-estimated, which of course meant that predicted emissions would be lower. (A cynical person might ask if this was a simple case of re-jigging the statistics and figures to get the answer one wants?)

Andrea Needham spoke on behalf of those objecting, commenting on climate change, a critical point in human history, environmental factors, woodland protection, air quality and pollution levels and the ESCC designated irreplaceable beauty of the area. John Shaw, clearly a master of planning jargonese, spoke in support, as did another council representative and the planning officer.

Members of the planning committee asked questions about air quality, environmental factors, species whose habitats would be disturbed and the success rate of relocation – and particularly current traffic, and therefore air pollution levels, on The Ridge, especially if traffic is idling in a jam. From what I remember of the Bexhill Hastings Link Road debates, there was much dispute as to whether these additional roads would ease traffic flow – or possibly just divert it to somewhere else – or make no difference at all.

Despite admonishments from the Chair, the public occasionally strayed from being the ‘passive listeners’ they were told to be, into being ‘actively vocal participants’, with many a cry for better public transport and alternatives to cars, carbon dioxide figures, better use of the money – and a liberal dose of cynicism about the process.

Voting took place. Seven of the ten planning committee councillors voted to pass the application. Home time.

(That’s me in the centre of the Combe Haven Defenders’ photo of local objectors outside the White Rock Theatre. I’m selling ‘Precious CLEAN AIR: Rare. Healthy. Breathable’, warning of a future where clean air might be sold, just as nowadays we buy ‘clean’ water. My personal attempt to persuade the councillors to see the bigger picture.)

Sea Change Sussex’ statement

“We’re pleased that Hastings Borough Council’s planners approved our application for the Queensway Gateway road scheme. We think this is the right decision for the area. We’ll now carefully consider the result and plan how we’re going to take this project forward.”

Combe Haven Defenders’ statement

Combe Haven Defenders spokesperson Andrea Needham addressed the committee, pointing out that the road was not only unlawful in terms of air pollution, it would also breach six separate HBC policies. Speaking afterwards, she said, “Last week saw the total failure of politicians in Paris to come to a legally binding agreement which could mitigate the worst effects of climate change. Now we see that lack of concern about catastrophic climate change and habitat loss being replicated in our town. We’re glad that three councillors had the courage to say no to this road, but the rest of them should have faced up to their responsibilities and refused permission for this polluting and destructive road, which will destroy forever one of our most precious green spaces.”

Statement from local resident who took HBC to High Court in London

Gabriel Carlyle, who brought the judicial review against the original planning permission, told HOT he was consulting his lawyer about a further legal challenge.

How do you feel about the road and the planning committee’s decision? Please submit your comments below.

*My views do not represent the views of all of the HOT team.

Posted 16:37 Wednesday, Dec 16, 2015 In: Home Ground

15 Comments

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  1. Paul Gough

    Delighted that this has been passed so reducing pollution and congestion. Just hope the protestors are banned from using our roads and stick to footpaths and tracks.Every protest adds millions to projects and wastes time. Now why not protest about the privatisation of the NHS or fair pay for. That is worthwhile. Drove down the beautiful link road today with less pollution than the fumes belching out in the jams along Bexhill Road. Romans come back we need you!!

    Comment by Paul Gough — Wednesday, Jan 20, 2016 @ 14:15

  2. Zelly Restorick

    Hello Peter, please would you elaborate – if you have time to spare. Thank you. Zelly

    Comment by Zelly Restorick — Monday, Jan 11, 2016 @ 14:20

  3. Peter Sanders

    I’m delighted the scheme is going ahead. I care deeply for our environment and am not convinced by any of CHD’s arguments.

    Comment by Peter Sanders — Monday, Jan 11, 2016 @ 12:52

  4. Zelly Restorick

    Dear Damocles, we appreciate you taking time to send in a reply – and interesting to hear a different perspective. Zelly Restorick

    Comment by Zelly Restorick — Thursday, Jan 7, 2016 @ 15:33

  5. Danny Perry

    My experience of the new link road thus are are this:
    1) it is quicker and easier to get from Hastings to Bexhill town centre on the new road.
    2)Congestion is noticeably less on the old coast road, which itself is now also a much easier journey.
    3)there are enormous queues on the Ridge because this final piece of road has not been built.

    Seems to me this new road would cause no extra polution whatsoever, because without it the exact same cars would just be using the Ridge instead. Except that the stationary traffic on the Ridge because of the bottleneck junction with the A21 must make the total amount of pollution worse.

    Comment by Danny Perry — Thursday, Jan 7, 2016 @ 08:32

  6. Martin Newbold

    That was odd.

    I really don’t understand why the Council Planners asked AN to provide a different solution to this problem of congestion. I would have thought that it was not proper in this situation to ask this as an alternative was not being subject for the approval.

    Personally I would have considered an existing improved road junction would have better served the community on the existing road. I don’t personally know even if this was considered. From the comments requesting this information from AN, it would suggest that this was not even something which was explored.

    Comment by Martin Newbold — Tuesday, Dec 22, 2015 @ 11:12

  7. Martin Newbold

    Its interesting that other towns are taking Air pollution more seriously http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-england-sussex-35131495 wel;l done to them for doing this . Personally HBC should be safe guarding its memebers of the Public in the same way . I would thoughtthere was a duty of care. I still have not heard from anyone who attending this consitution meeting which was alleged to be heard on eh 15th December 2015 too. Did anyone stay or did you like me think when they turned the lights off it was over. I am also quite appalled this was done as this could have been a serious hazard? Would love to see the risk assesment for it.

    This decission is appalling I do not believe the Planning Department is functioning correctly and have asked for a meeting with Corporate to explain why.

    Comment by Martin Newbold — Tuesday, Dec 22, 2015 @ 10:11

  8. Richard Heritage

    Regretfully we knew this was a done deal with HBC and Sea Change. As already said by P.S. Sea Change / Sea Space have never been refused an application. And when you take into account it is a Labour run quango by Cllr Chowney under Hastings & Bexhill Renaissance LTD who procured several millions of pounds form central government.
    did anyone really think the Labour dominated planning committee would go against their “Leader.” Amazing how there was even three that voted against it. No doubt they will get a real basting for doing that. I have no doubts they were all given a pet lecture about the application long before they sat around that table.
    As we know they have done a dumbing down on the pollution figures. What it needs now is an expert to peruse this information and prove it wrong. If this could be done then we could be looking at a Fraud issue.

    Comment by Richard Heritage — Saturday, Dec 19, 2015 @ 19:21

  9. eric chater

    The sooner the people of Hastings realise the town is run by the company quango, not-for-profit, East Sussex Energy Infrastructure & Development Ltd, registered in England and Wales, Company No. 07632595. Registered office: Innovation Centre, Highfield Drive, St Leonards, TN38 9UH, trading under the name of Sea Change, the better they’ll understand why Hastings’ borough councillors should be taken out and shot down like mad dogs.

    Comment by eric chater — Friday, Dec 18, 2015 @ 20:46

  10. Martin Newbold

    I attended this meeting. I was impressed with the public attendance. I do not believe that the councilors fully understood the complexities of this Application and where not able to understand that Hastings only currently has two Air Pollution monitoring sites for NO2. These two sites do not provide data logging currently of small and large particulates only the N02 is recorded. They are also at a high elevation. There should be some monitoring of lower elevations. I pointed out to the Acting Development Manager that modeled data cannot be modeled from a modal without skewing data. I do not think this was understood. It is a real shame. In my opinion this needs to go back to Judicial Review. I do not believe all the fact was taken on board.
    I have been told by Hastings Badger Protection Directors of which I am a Director, that translocation of Protected wildlife has not worked in Hastings and should not be happening again. I am told a very large proportion of translocated animals do not survive.
    I am concerned that the lights were tuned off after this meeting. Yet it is alleged a full council meeting occurred just after to ratify a new Council Constitution. I would be grateful if anyone who stayed saw this meeting occur. Please would they contact me?
    For anyone who did not attend there is an unofficial recording, which the FOSWMT & C had permission to record here https://youtu.be/39m7YUXObcg?list=PLNMmo_vdYzeWX8LkK1Dc9uPR4ud5vm95c

    Comment by Martin Newbold — Friday, Dec 18, 2015 @ 12:15

  11. patricia stephenson

    All those people who protested at this shameful application (800+) should be mindful that Sea Change has never had a planning application refused by either Hastings or Rother or ESCC councils – one way or another this quango will manage to fiddle about with facts and figures and get their way. And judging by Tuesday’s decision illegal pollution levels are no bar to getting approval – illegal? So what… we can get round that one…Of course this is public money and the CEO of this set up shows an arrogance which is difficult to comprehend…’not necessary’ to explore alternatives? Indeed, no need because John Shaw is so assured of his victory why should he bother to explore greener alternatives?
    Clearly there was an element of unease within the planning committee membership – but as usual their unease was worth nothing. Yet again they have passed an application which will see the destruction of our beautiful countryside – Hollington Valley will be lost forever. Shame on these people and contratulations to the three councillors who had the courage to stand up and be counted.

    Comment by patricia stephenson — Friday, Dec 18, 2015 @ 11:29

  12. Kay Green

    It’s illogical and, I believe, another example of the construction industry taking advantage of people who are frustrated by existing traffic jams. The first drivers through a new road yell ‘yippee, look how fast I am travelling’ so new roads appear to be a blessed relief from all the frustrations of road rage but as with all the traitorous comforts of addiction, the relief is temporary. The new road is soon full and producing more frustration. A far, far better way of avoiding traffic misery is to stay away from cars and roads as much as possible. That’s also a far less selfish solution as it not only reduces the traffic jam for those who can’t avoid the roads but it reduces just about all our other problems – noise, pollution, the danger of being run down when trying to walk/cycle, the tragic shortage of wild, green places etc etc In short, this is a victory for selfish business people and short-sighted drivers.

    Comment by Kay Green — Thursday, Dec 17, 2015 @ 22:28

  13. DAR

    Quelle surprise! Big business and its cronies hold sway once again. The congestion problem will now be displaced from Bexhill Road to The Ridge and even more countryside will be concreted over to make way for 2000+ houses – houses “needed” because we have a population crisis as a result, largely, of out-of-control immigration over years and years.

    Comment by DAR — Thursday, Dec 17, 2015 @ 15:29

  14. Annie Cryar

    This year, for the first time, the daffodils are out at the same time as the Christmas lights in Westfield. Everyone is aware that this road will NOT ease traffic flow; shame on the Councillors who voted for this and for shirking their responsibilities for our future.

    Comment by Annie Cryar — Wednesday, Dec 16, 2015 @ 19:51

  15. Erica Smith

    I attended the meeting. I was impressed by the public attendance, and I thought the Councillors had a serious discussion about the road and asked sensible questions to both Andrea Needham and John Shaw. I thought Andrea Needham’s statement and the way she answered questions were exemplary. John Shaw, however, did not impress me. When asked twice by the Councillors as to whether alternatives to the road had been explored, he said that that was not necessary. One of the Councillors had to pick him up on this and remind him that alternative routes and solutions did need to be explored as part of the planning process. Shaw also refused to discuss the low levels of occupation of existing SeaChange developments.
    I did think it was very sad that there was no acknowledgement of global warming despite this being the warmest December on record, with serious flooding. The committee came across as a bunch of climate change deniers – clinging to the hope that everything will be sorted out when more efficient car engines are invented.
    Even with more efficient engines, increased car use will just lead to instant congestion on these roads. There is no public transport provision to get to the planned new industrial estates. This planning application will be the first of many plans that are rail-roaded through for more roads to be built to ‘de-congest’ the roads that they are building… and none of this is sustainable!

    Comment by Erica Smith — Wednesday, Dec 16, 2015 @ 17:17

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