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Flooding on the lower tier following heavy rains in early January.

Flooding on the lower tier following heavy rains in early January.

Grant for flood defences below the sports village

A grant of £2.25 million has been made to Hastings Borough Council and the developer of the proposed sports complex in Bulverhythe for remediation work on the adjacent housing site. Nick Terdre reports.

The grant of £2.25 million has been made from the government’s Housing Infrastructure Fund to help pay for infrastructural improvements required for the Combe Valley Sports Village and Housing project off Bexhill Road in Bulverhythe. HIF is a £5 billion capital grant programme announced in the autumn budget “to fix the broken housing market”.

The money was bid for jointly by Hastings Borough Council and the developer team, Bohemia LLP and its then house-building partner, Keepmoat.

In addition to the sports complex and housing on Bexhill Road recreation ground, the Combe Valley project also includes housing projects at Horntye Park and Pilot Field, the home of Hastings United Football Club. Sale of the housing – some 390 dwellings at the three sites – is intended to finance the new sports complex.

Welcoming the grant, council leader Peter Chowney said, “The £2.25 million will go some way to meeting the costs of the infrastructure required in order to bring the project forward. In particular it will enable the developers to carry out remediation measures necessary to help prevent future flooding in the area and help safeguard existing residents’ homes where this has been a constant risk in the past.”

Lying behind the houses on the north of Bexhill Road, the lower tier of land is subject to extensive flooding in rainy periods.

Proposed housing development on the lower tier.

Proposed housing development on the lower tier (image: Combe Valley Sports Village and Housing Schemes).

Land valuation subject to change

In December the HBC Cabinet agreed to sell the freehold of the lower tier of Bexhill Road recreation ground for £2 million to Bohemia and Keepmoat, although it was valued at £3.7 million by the District Valuer Service.

The director of Operational Services’ report to the Cabinet on the matter noted that the developers believed the DSV’s valuation to be too high in view of the costs of developing the site, including additional flood defence and parking works, and that the final valuation might change when negotiations between the two parties were completed.

At New Year, to the surprise of its partner, Keepmoat announced it was pulling out of the scheme. “The developers are now looking to secure a major housebuilding partner before seeking the necessary planning approvals required for the project to proceed,” Cllr Chowney said.

The council is understandably keen to see the Combe Valley project go ahead, not least for the 120 or so affordable housing units it offers at a time when various other projects for which planning permission has been granted have been allowed to drop their affordable housing quotas after submitting confidential viability assessments which the planning committee is not allowed to see.

Open book – but not for the public

The Cabinet agreed to delegate powers to the council leader, together with the director of operational services, to deal with any request to vary the affordable housing obligation of the Combe Valley scheme. According to the director of operational services’s report to Cabinet, “any deviation from the policy requirement will be subject to an open book and detailed viability assessment”. However, HOT has been told that ‘open book’ means open to the planning department but not to the public.

By covering at least part of the infrastructure development costs, the HIF grant goes some way to reducing the chances of a later submission from the developer for the affordable housing obligation to be removed or scaled back.

Meanwhile the report noted that no agreement had been reached on the number of affordable housing units for the Horntye Park and Pilot Field sites. The council’s policy for such brownfield sites is 25%, equivalent to about 57 units overall.

 

Combe Valley Sports Village and Housing Schemes website.

Posted 17:56 Wednesday, Feb 7, 2018 In: Home Ground

1 Comment


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  1. Ms.Doubtfire

    How can this council sell this very valuable piece of land for so much less than the value quoted by the District Valuer’s Service? Does this council think they know better than this department? Why should a developer be permitted to set the price which is what appears to have happened here?

    If the flood defences go ahead, then the land will surely be worth at least the amount quoted by the District Valuer’s office, and whether or not any development takes place, local residents will welcome these actions to relieve them of the serious flooding issues which affect all those houses close to this site.

    Comment by Ms.Doubtfire — Friday, Feb 9, 2018 @ 12:00

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