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Rock a Nore Image Derrick Moss

Rock a Nore Image Derrick Moss

Hastings Harbour Development Proposal: some local peoples’ views

HOT’s Chandra Masoliver asks local residents Dick Edwards, Lucinda Oakes and Kerry Phillips for their views on The Harbour Development Proposal. Dick is the Chair of Hastings Old Town Residents’ Association (HOTRA). Lucinda is an artist, she is a member of Hastings Motor Boat and Yacht Club (HMBYC), where she painted the mural on the outside wall, and feels passionately about Rock a Nore and the Old Town. Kerry is Activities Co-ordinator at Queen Mary’s Nursing Home and Mulberry House, St Leonards-On-Sea. She enjoys kayaking from Rock a Nore beach.  

Dick Edwards gives his personal opinion:

“First of all, I don’t think they will raise enough money for the feasibility study. They are talking with the government about a necessary half a billion pounds. If they were given that much to spend, they would need to prioritise updating the rail track to Ashford, and improving the A259 and the A21 – that would be a greater benefit to Hastings.

“Secondly, one thousand two hundred units for housing would double the size of the Old Town. I asked what provision they were making for schools, they said probably they would have one crèche, but that would not be enough. And local primary schools are already full, so the necessary demands would not be met. Similarly with GP surgeries, even with the new one moving to Rock a Nore Road, because that is already fairly full.

“Thirdly, there is the question of the rise and fall of the tide: they say they don’t want lock gates, but the rise and fall of the tide at the former bathing site meant that could not go ahead. This site would have the same problem.

“Also there are the consequences to the fishermen, it would have a big impact on them. Fishermen are out twenty four hours a day, it would hamper their flexibility to have to negotiate obstructions.

“Then Rock a Nore and the Country Park are Sites of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI), there has been no study done on the effect of a development there – what ecological impact it would have on the shore if they were to dig or excavate there. And no thought has been given to the unstable nature of the cliffs

“As to transport, with that number of houses there would be around two thousand people; and they claim that this would create eight hundred jobs: but how would all these people get in and out of what is a cul-de-sac? This unexplained fact is a major stumbling block.

“Lastly, there is the social impact this would have on the Old Town. To me, this is the most worrying and far-reaching fact. Some shop keepers are rubbing their hands thinking there would be many more people buying antiques. But what about food shopping? These people would be having it delivered by little vans, and this would create terrible traffic queues.

“In summary, I do not think the scheme is viable, and the developers would be likely to go bust. The Black Rock harbour at Brighton went bankrupt, and so did the Sovereign harbour at Eastbourne. The Brighton development was delayed for five years. All they have to do is to go bankrupt; the debts of ‘Charlie Smith’ would be written off, and then they can start again under ‘Charlie Smith 2018’. The impact is carried by the local businesses that suffer.”

Lucinda Oakes by the mural she painted for

Lucinda Oakes by the mural she painted for The Hastings Motor Boat and Yacht Club. Image CM.

Lucinda Oakes gives her personal opinion:

“My initial reaction, emotionally, was complete and utter horror. I love Rock a Nore, and the cliffs, and the walk round to Ecclesbourne Glen, and to Fairlight along the beach.

“I feel that to have all that attached to our town is what makes it unique, what makes it so special being here. We’ve got to realise what this adds to our lives, how it brings our community together. Having a natural resource like we do brings intangible benefits, it affects our well being and can add as much to our lives as art and culture do.

“Then there’s the Boat Club, a brilliant inclusive place, with a wide cross-section of people, young and old, from all walks of life. It’s within the reach of most pockets – exactly suited to our town.

Hastings Motor Boat and Yacht Club Photo Lucinda Oakes

Hastings Motor Boat and Yacht Club Photo Lucinda Oakes Image CM

“There are many other worries: the logistics, roads, access, etc. But what is most important to me is what we’ve actually got. Over the years I’ve lived here, I’ve met with wonderful people in this community. We meet on the beach at Rock a Nore, take our children there after school, have picnics and barbecues, socialise, swim, and kayak around the bay with the beautiful backdrop of the cliffs. It is our public space, our park. It brings our community together and I just can’t believe anyone would want to take it away.

“In a town where many people don’t have much money, this wonderful place is free. Here’s the thing: it’s for everybody. “For the many, not the few” as they say.”

Kerry with her kayak at Rock A Nore

Kerry with kayak at Rock A Nore Photo Paul Stanley

Kerry Phillips gives her personal opinion:

“On first hearing that someone had put forward a scheme to turn Rock a Nore into a large marina development with housing, etc., I was devastated. It set my day off to a really bad start, with an instant surge of panic and a horrible gut feeling: a feeling of total helplessness that something seriously heartbreaking could easily happen, and that it would be out of our hands. By ‘our hands’, I mean the residents of Hastings, and those who feel the same as me about our stunning piece of paradise.

And of course not forgetting our fishermen, who along with their descendents have worked the beach for centuries, and who you’d think would at least get to see the plans first.

As the day went on, I enlightened people on what I’d heard on Sussex radio that morning and was pleased that everyone felt as strongly and as upset as I did. No-one could comprehend how anyone in their right mind would want to change in any way an area that was so perfectly perfect to begin with.

“We were also baffled because you only have to go online to see how important Rock a Nore is. It appears on many a book cover on fossils, and it claims to be the only place outside the Isle of Wight that you can find dinosaur bones. Also, being a Site of Special Scientific Interest, it states that you can visit, but it is forbidden to hammer the bedrock, and that some of the algae are the best example of their kind in the world. The information is all readily available on line, even without doing a feasibility study, so why would anyone believe they could mess with it?

A blissful day trip out to Rock A Nore

A blissful day trip out to Rock A Nore for people from Queen Mary’s Nursing Home

“Much of my spare time, and my work time, are spent enjoying Rock a Nore. I work at Queen Mary’s Nursing Home in St. Leonards, where half of the residents are elderly – many with dementia; the other half is of all ages, and has suffered brain injuries.

“I am lucky to have the Activities Co-ordinator role, which I’ve enjoyed for over eleven years. My main aim is to try and organise activities and events to make everyone’s life happier. Finding out about the residents as individuals is incredibly important, so as not to put everyone into the same mould. Spending most days with them I get to know their characters and quirks; and as we know, someone’s idea of a great activity can be someone else’s idea of hell.

“One of the most rewarding things I do is to take the residents out in our minibus. Many of my trips involve parking up at Rock a Nore with a picnic, an ice cream, a flask of tea, or a beer. We soak up the stunning scenery, gazing at the cliffs through to the Glen, or we go to the main car park and admire the fishing boats. I’ve had residents who used to go fishing, and then we sit with our rods over the railings. To some it’s a friendly, familiar sight, for those new to Hastings, they can’t believe this beauty spot is on their doorsteps. The most agitated and unsettled resident will mostly return home more relaxed and content.

“I also spend a lot of my spare time down there socialising, throughout the spring/summer the beach is packed, and the atmosphere is brilliant. Nearby there’s the friendly Motor Boat and Yacht Club, with its seriously affordable prices; you can feel you’re abroad, even if the pennies are tight – which, let’s face it, for many they are.

“One of my big pleasures is to paddle my kayak round the cliffs, up to Ecclesbourne Glen and beyond. There’s no sound but the sea, jumping fish, nesting birds, and, if you’re lucky, a visit from our friendly seal. It’s so important to have a place of solace to retreat to that benefits the mind and soul. Even if they don’t realise it, I think a lot of people need to get far away from the technical gadgets and material possessions that they are, sadly, obsessed with.

“The thought of anyone allowing a marina with housing to encroach is shocking, and it shows an arrogant disregard for nature, and for people’s feelings.. Greed and power in the wrong hands are a scary thing. The need for housing is simply not a good enough reason to mutilate our town’s attributes.

“Rock a Nore and the fishing beach bring so much tourism and revenue into the town, so there is no excuse to destroy them. What appeals to so many is that it still oozes character, and characters. Time and again fat cats attempt to so-called enhance a place, and the heart and soul is ripped out for ever, leaving it characterless and dull.”

In Chandra Masoliver’s next Hastings Harbour article, Anne Scott, Chair of the Old Hastings Preservation Society, will give Chandra her views on the Harbour Development Proposal..

Posted 18:10 Tuesday, Dec 26, 2017 In: Home Ground

6 Comments


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  1. Ms.Doubtfire

    As Kerry Phillips comments in this excellent article, ‘greed and power in the wrong hands are a scary thing’ – so true and unfortunately this scenario will be the downfall of this unique town. Where are our elected councillors? Are they unable to stand up to the our paid officers in the planning department? Just because these officers have a piece of paper which declares they are qualified in all planning matters does not mean to say they are qualified to do what is right for Hastings. Enough is enough. Why do our elected councillors show such a lack of courage to stand up to these officers?

    Comment by Ms.Doubtfire — Friday, Dec 29, 2017 @ 10:37

  2. Petra Lander

    For a moment I thought this must be an April 1st joke, the I realised to my horror that this suggestion was for real. I can only second every single comment that was made by the people interviewed and who commented here. It is for all those reasons that I now live in this lovely place and feel privileged to be able to do so. All the horrible excesses and ‘Mus-developments ‘ of London are now behind me, please let’s not let them swamp us here too. What most humans need is what we are blessed with, which is nature, peacefulness, Harmony, and a lovely community. Let’s not have it destroyed by monetary and political greed.
    There are many sites screaming for development, such as the former hospitals on West Hill Rd in St.Leonards. But nothing is happening there??? Why not??? The government sold this site to a developer many years ago, why us nothing being done there. Let’s refocus and be reasonable PLEASE!

    Comment by Petra Lander — Thursday, Dec 28, 2017 @ 17:15

  3. DAR

    As Edward says, the justification for this nonsense – and others before it (e.g. see Queensway) – is always “jobs and houses”, but while inappropriate housing developments go ahead, jobs don’t materialise at all, or only in the short term during construction (usually by non-local developers!).

    Comment by DAR — Thursday, Dec 28, 2017 @ 13:23

  4. Penny

    It becomes increasingly obvious that some of our civic leaders are bedazzled with the Emperor’s new clothes.
    See also White Rock plans.

    Comment by Penny — Wednesday, Dec 27, 2017 @ 22:47

  5. Jan Curd

    Not living in Hastings but have family connections, so feel able to comment. I live in Hailsham where we have had enormous amounts of houses built in the past five years and the subsequent demand that brings for more schools, more G.P’s, better transport and work opportunities – none of which has transpired but our governing council (Wealden) have decided in their wisdom the priority is for a new crematorium!!!
    My previous home town was Tunbridge Wells where there is much controversy over billions of pounds to convert part of a beautiful public space into a new theatre etc.
    All of these proposals in these two towns have had fierce opposition from the people that live there and frustratingly although valid and well presented facts and figures against them, will be ignored for the sake of aggrandisement by the councillors who feel the need to “make their mark” whatever the cost.
    But keep fighting and definitely don’t role over – one day public opinion will prevail.

    Comment by Jan Curd — Wednesday, Dec 27, 2017 @ 17:52

  6. Edward

    Once again the fat cat developers think they know what is best for us.’If it ain’t broke we’ll break it for you’ should be their slogan. It is breath taking that a project as cock eyed and demonstrably against common sense, conservation, economics, social welfare and the law of the land should even be under consideration and have been thoughtlessly endorsed by the local member of parliament to boot. It seems that waving a banner saying jobs and houses is enough to support a project that will clearly destroy livelihoods and severely diminish the main attractions of this unique area.

    Comment by Edward — Wednesday, Dec 27, 2017 @ 16:51

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