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Julia Hilton, centre, holding the petition, and Cllr Nigel Sinden, to right, flank Amelia Womack, the Greens' deputy leader.

Julia Hilton, centre, holding the petition, and Cllr Nigel Sinden, to right, flank Amelia Womack, the Greens’ deputy leader.

Greens petition HBC to reject Harbour Quarter

Hastings Green Party continues its campaign against the proposed Harbour Quarter development in the Old Town, handing in a petition calling on the council to reject the plan to the mayor, Cllr Nigel Sinden, in the presence of the party’s deputy leader Amelia Womack. Nick Terdre reports.

The petition, started in the run-up to the local elections in May, ended up with more than 1,100 signatures. It was handed to the mayor, Cllr Nigel Sinden, who is empowered to receive petitions. He undertook to deliver it to the council’s legal department which will check that it complies with regulations.

The handover took place on Thursday at the east end of Rock-a-Nore car park, overlooking the site of the proposed 1,300 house and marina development, in the presence of some 40 Green Party supporters.

The petition calls on Hastings Borough Council to reject the proposed plan, which it is thought could call for an investment of some £500 million from the developer. “We believe this project would do irrevocable harm to some of the most precious assets of Hastings,” it says.

“It would destroy the character of one of the best loved parts of our town. The site is completely inappropriate for such a massive development and the housing would almost certainly be unaffordable to local people.”

The proposal was first brought to public attention last autumn, when council leader Peter Chowney said it “could be enormously beneficial for the local economy.” The Labour-controlled Cabinet approved moves to facilitate the development. However there has been no public consultation – according to Chowney this is a matter for the developer and not the council.

With the project gaining unpopularity among residents as the local elections approached, Labour backtracked somewhat, saying that nothing had been decided. It was made an election issue by the Greens, notably in Old Hastings ward, where the party’s candidate Julia Hilton came within a few votes of taking a seat from Labour.

“We will continue to oppose [the scheme], and to be a voice for the community, calling for transparency around all major planning decisions and proper engagement with the people of Hastings about how we create a vision for this town,” Hilton said at the petition handover.

petition handover 300

Petition handover – overlooking the site of the proposed Harbour Quarter development.

“We need to find ways to bring ideas and solutions to the problems of this town from the bottom up, listening to this community, not top down from secretive developers working behind closed doors.”

Amelia Womack, the Greens’ deputy leader, told HOT she had come to show support for the petition as it was very important for councils to operate transparently. “It’s very inspiring to see our candidates addressing issues which are important to the community and providing a voice for the community,” she said.

“We’ve shown we can get Greens elected here, and get more diversity on the council as well.”

Cllr Sinden said there were many links between Labour and the Greens in Hastings. He recalled that Peter Chowney’s general election campaign last year had benefited from the Greens’ decision not to stand a candidate. He was sceptical about the Harbour Quarter proposal, for example, doubting that a road link with sufficient capacity to serve such a large housing community could be created without extensive upheaval in the Rock-a-Nore area.

If there were £500 million to spend, he knew of many better ways to spend it, he said.

Posted 13:51 Sunday, Jul 15, 2018 In: Home Ground

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