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The draft plan for the harbour development

The draft plan for the harbour development

Hastings Harbour – surprise proposal

Many people in Hastings Old Town and beyond were taken aback by the seemingly undemocratic and sudden way the proposal for a very large Marina on Rock a Nore was recently sprung upon them. HOT’s Chandra Masoliver summarises some of the key aspects of the feasibility study related to this proposal, which was voted for by Hastings Borough Council and East Sussex County Council at a meeting at Aquila House on Monday 11 September 2017.

Timing

On Friday 1 September,  the Hastings Observer unveiled a £500 million regeneration plan for Hastings’ seafront – and ITV Meridian News interviewed fisherman Stewart Hamilton, Andrew Doyle the chief shareholder in Hastings Harbour Quarter Ltd and Councillor Peter Chowney, the leader of Hastings Council. This was the first time most people heard about the proposal.

Amber Rudd, while wishing that the proposal be carefully considered, was enthusiastic, saying: “This scheme has the potential to deliver fantastic new opportunities for our town”.

On 11 September, the Hastings Borough Council Cabinet meeting took place: “To seek authority to work with Hastings Harbour Quarter Ltd, East Sussex County Council and other partners to develop a strategic outline for the potential development of a harbour, housing and associated outcomes at Rock a Nore”.

In this meeting a £1.5 million viability study was approved, without the concerned public being allowed to say a single word – or so we thought. Sadly, too late, and for what it would have been worth, Richard Price wrote in Hastings Independent Press on 15 September: “Most people will not realise that there is a choice and that they can petition to speak at the Cabinet Meeting”.

I downloaded three relevant documents:

  1. A sketch of the proposed development (hardly precise) by Michael Drain, the architect for the scheme (see above).
  2. The Hastings Harbour Development Proposal. (HOT has written to BDO who produced the report for an online link.)
  3. The Report for the Cabinet meeting of the Potential new Development Proposal.

This report for the Cabinet from Hastings Harbour Quarter (HHQ), Hastings Borough Council (HBC), East Sussex County Council (ESCC) and South East Local Enterprise Partnership (SELEP) is dated 18 August 2017.

Hastings’ Harbour Quarter members and plan

The HHQ members comprise:

Andrew Doyle: (company no: 096025290), the majority shareholder, Director of Funding, and Director of the Land Group, which specialises in property investment, finance and development in the UK and Ireland. Andrea Needham notes that “Andrew Doyle sat on the board of Coastal Innovations Ltd., which was responsible for the ‘Enviro21’ development on Queensway. It wasn’t very successful (half the site was never built on, and the 500 promised jobs never materialised) and Coastal Innovations Ltd. went into compulsory liquidation in 2012.”

John Walsh: Director of Development and Delivery, and also Director of Senate Project Services Ltd, who, on return from MIPIM UK 2017 (rated the No 1 Property Trade Show) were retained by the show to, among other things, “Help a client with a compulsory purchase order within the UK.”

Michael Drain: Director of Architecture and Master plan

Simon Carman: Financial Adviser

Ken Smith: Legal Adviser

Aim and purpose

HHQ’s aim is to seek central government funding to develop a Strategic Outline Case (SOC) for the Hastings Harbour Development Project, for “The transformation of the Hastings sea frontage, the construction of a new enclosed harbour/marina and economic regeneration of the surrounding area.”

The purpose is to provide a marina within a new harbour wall for about six hundred berths, one thousand three hundred new homes, a hotel, a leisure facility and a new venue for events. They would reclaim land from the sea, and yet say “It is critical that any development complements the natural and human made environment of Hastings.”

Financial benefits

These were described, with figures added: there would be five hundred to a thousand permanent jobs. And among the one thousand three hundred houses, as well as ‘affordable housing,’ some of the residents of this housing scheme would have an anticipated earning power of approximately £26 million per annum (current year) and thus enrich the coffers of the town. It would, to quote them, “meet a range of housing needs, attracting new skills and unemployment (sic) to the town”. Then the rail extension to Hastings would be more viable. Oh, and it was stated: “The fishing industry and community has been at the heart of the proposal from the outset, although they have not yet been consulted.”

Work schedule

The work schedule was listed thus:

2019: The development of detailed options appraisal and outline business case

2020: Procurement process

2021:  Enabling works commence, and “Once the harbour wall starts, we anticipate delivering the full project within seven years.”

The harbour

Current view of Hastings Harbour. Source: Google Earth

Funding

The whole project is estimated to cost £500 million. The feasibility study would be financed by the Treasury, since no one else would invest money until it is proved viable; here “any monies allocated by government will be re-paid from returns made on the commercial elements of the development”.

The rest of the project would be from private investment, and “ownership of the public asset would revert to the public sector through a charitable trust upon completion of the long-term funding process”.

Or, as the Cabinet report states: “On completion it’s intended to hand the public assets to a local charity – potentially the Foreshore Trust.” But it was stated that this is one of the features which will need to be more fully explored as the scheme develops.

The Cabinet Report 

The council will look to “maximise the benefits for Borough residents… achieve affordable housing, attract key workers like education and medical staff, and ensure that no car parking is lost.”

As to local people’s views, the report anticipates: “they are likely to be varied. Key groups like the Fishermen’s Protection Society, Coastal Uses Group and officers of the Chamber of Commerce will be briefed before the Cabinet meeting, however, it is critical to stress that… this is a matter for town wide engagement.”

It is noted that the point of no return is some time away, but to attract State funding and private interest there needs to be: “A clear commitment to the principle of the proposal and benefits it may deliver IF the issues of finance, access, and employment can be satisfactorily addressed”.

There are said to be no legal implications, but there is a sentence about “obtaining permission from the Charity Commission to dispose of any Foreshore Trust land… overcoming the restrictions that apply to commercial interest in Foreshore Trust land, including any potential land swap… and the compromise agreement with the fishermen.”

The Council meeting

Having read the report, I went to the Cabinet meeting held at Aquila House on Monday 11 September 2017: there was a lot of talk about social housing, which had not been mentioned in the reports – only ‘affordable housing’ was mentioned there, whatever that means. Then, alas, as I feared, I witnessed the ease with which the feasibility study was given the go-ahead, and soon afterwards the public were asked to leave the meeting.

This is the first on a series of articles. In her next article, Chandra Masoliver will interview the leader of the council, Peter Chowney, about this proposal.

Posted 08:14 Tuesday, Sep 26, 2017 In: Home Ground

23 Comments


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  1. Ms.Doubtfire

    What a great shame there are no comments facility on the excellent interview with Chandra and councillor Pete!
    So many points to raise here too… A tunnel through the cliffs??? Now who has told him this is a good idea? Just one little example of how these people come to this town, fill our councillors with pie in the sky ideas and they are taken seriously? You must be joking!! A tunnel? These cliffs are very fragile as can be witnessed by the major landslip alongside the Rocklands caravan park…a tunnel? Someone has lost the plot here. God help us! Cyril Gould has summed it up very nicely indeed ‘talons of the moneyseekers’ – too right.

    Comment by Ms.Doubtfire — Wednesday, Oct 4, 2017 @ 09:31

  2. Cyril Gould

    This is good stuff! Let’s make sure all aspects of this alarming project are opened for examination by those who have to live in the beautiful Old Town, fish from its shore, and protect its unique character. How vulnerable such a magical place can be to the talons of the moneyseekers!

    Comment by Cyril Gould — Tuesday, Oct 3, 2017 @ 13:19

  3. Chandra Masoliver

    Thanks for all your information, I completely agree with you

    Comment by Chandra Masoliver — Monday, Oct 2, 2017 @ 09:49

  4. Ms.Doubtfire

    The Agenda pack for this meeting did state there was an item on the Agenda where public exclusion was required due to ‘exempt’ information as defined in the paragraphs of Schedule 12A to the Local Government Act 1972….
    The matter under discusion was all about cleaning contracts for public conveniences….so now we all know. Wow! what is so secret about public loo cleaning contracts? Especially as now we have so few of these important facilities.

    Comment by Ms.Doubtfire — Monday, Oct 2, 2017 @ 09:05

  5. Andrea Needham

    I have very serious reservations about this project,not least that it is driven by 3 people (‘hastings harbour quarter ltd’) who appear to have very little connection to hastings unless you count Andrew Doyle’s less than successful venture into commercial property development at ‘enviro 21’. Clearly, their bottom line is making money (Andrew Doyle has 53 directorships already, according to Companies House)rather than what would be good for the people of Hastings. We need a new vision, of sustainable, bottom-up, environmentally sound projects which would benefit everyone, not vast vanity projects which will utterly change the nature of Hastings and make it even more unaffordable for ordinary people. Yachts and luxury apartments and boutique shops instead of the beauty of the unspoiled beaches of Rock a Nore? No thanks.

    Comment by Andrea Needham — Friday, Sep 29, 2017 @ 14:48

  6. Chandra Masoliver

    Perhaps you left after the discussion of the proposal David? I stayed on while other matters were discussed and decided upon, after which ‘members of the public’ were adked to leave.

    Comment by Chandra Masoliver — Friday, Sep 29, 2017 @ 12:15

  7. Chandra Masoliver

    You are always aware of our need to protect our environment Ms Doubtfire.

    Comment by Chandra Masoliver — Friday, Sep 29, 2017 @ 12:14

  8. Chandra Masoliver

    Thank you Andy, I have suggested Kathleen reads your comment.

    Comment by Chandra Masoliver — Friday, Sep 29, 2017 @ 12:11

  9. Chandra Masoliver

    Thank you Keith for your information.

    Comment by Chandra Masoliver — Friday, Sep 29, 2017 @ 12:10

  10. Chandra Masoliver

    Everyone’s view is important Kathleen, but I think Andy Ammo’s comment clarifies some of the problems involved in creating ‘a lovely harbour and surrounding area’ at Rock a Nore.

    Comment by Chandra Masoliver — Friday, Sep 29, 2017 @ 12:08

  11. Chandra Masoliver

    Thanks Amanda, that’s very relevant. I’ll try and find out more, and would be grateful if you do too. I could interview you if you like?

    Comment by Chandra Masoliver — Friday, Sep 29, 2017 @ 12:05

  12. Chandra Masoliver

    Thanks for your opinion Dar, very eloquently put!

    Comment by Chandra Masoliver — Friday, Sep 29, 2017 @ 11:58

  13. Chandra Masoliver

    Thank you, George Denley, for the entertaining way you make a seriously good point.

    Comment by Chandra Masoliver — Friday, Sep 29, 2017 @ 10:37

  14. George Denley

    I am looking forward to the next installment of how to waste money, create unemployment, provide berths for super yachts and destroy the environment. How does this kind of vast upheaval benefit anyone other than the construction industry? The fishing fleet is very well placed on the shore for low impact, sustainable fishery. It will also have a much improved catch with the exclusion of the European factory fishing machines.

    Comment by George Denley — Thursday, Sep 28, 2017 @ 19:29

  15. DAR

    Another highly questionable proposal by people wanting to make “loadsamoney” with plenty of help from our pockets. Crumbling cliffs, exposure to salt, spray, high winds – not to mention huge traffic congestion. Who would want to live in a place like this? And there are other marinas nearby along the coast – so would another one be viable in this area? I think not.
    The best community “development” we’ve had in recent years has been the reclamation of the pier. That’s the sort of model to follow. This one is nuts.

    Comment by DAR — Thursday, Sep 28, 2017 @ 16:40

  16. Amanda Allan

    sorry about the spelling!

    Comment by Amanda Allan — Thursday, Sep 28, 2017 @ 11:55

  17. Amanda Allan

    The reason for this post is to suggest that the architects of this project, Michael Drain, be looked at carefully. From their website it does not look as if they have completed any large scale projects of any sort, nautical, housingm industrial. They will need to be questionned very specifically on their competence to put together a team with the expertise, knowledge and capability to deliver a project of this size and potential importance, and then project manage successfully. They need to be questionned about their expereence of working in consultation with people representing a wide spectrum of local interests.

    Comment by Amanda Allan — Thursday, Sep 28, 2017 @ 11:54

  18. Andy Ammo

    Sorry Kathleen but we already have a lovely harbour and surrounding area. Certainly there’s scope for improvement but this isn’t it.

    5 or 7 years as a building site would do major damage to Rock-a-Nore and the Old Town and the local economy. After that, yachts and superyachts would prevail, and the area would be transformed. No thanks.

    Even the implications of 1300 new homes in the area (and parking) make it seriously unfeasible. This is not a worthwhile scheme.

    Comment by Andy Ammo — Wednesday, Sep 27, 2017 @ 23:38

  19. Kathleen

    I think this would be good for our town we so need a variety of jobs in this now for the building and ongoing employment of many local people. Let’s just hope this goes through and we have a lovely harbour and surrounding area

    Comment by Kathleen — Wednesday, Sep 27, 2017 @ 20:53

  20. Ms.Doubtfire

    https://www.hastings.gov.uk/content/planning/planning_policy/pdfs/White_Rock_Masterplan.pdf

    Have a read of this – it isn’t just a Marina – there is a whole lot more in the pipeline than this…

    Comment by Ms.Doubtfire — Wednesday, Sep 27, 2017 @ 07:56

  21. Keith Piggott

    Public pressure for ESCC-HBC establishment of ‘Rock a Nore’ harbour project seems to have escaped my notice, evidently.

    Or is it like a previous ESCC-HBC pet project, the Gillsmans Hill Spur Road Phase 2, that only delivered huge budgets for their studies, expenses, and ‘partnerships’ over four decades?

    Wasn’t there a harbour project for the old St.Leonards Lido? Wonder how much of the public purse that money pit swallowed before being abandoned.

    We never may know, the council repeatedly denied my FOI Requests for costs to the public purse of severance of two former planning employees who promoted false boundary plans to committee to assist client developer – plans denied in FOI Requests until their severance.

    Council even proposes to levy fees to enquire about such matters. Hasn’t the EU taught well its covert administrative paradigms and evading accountability?

    Keith Piggott
    Olive Lodge
    Gillsmans Hill

    Comment by Keith Piggott — Tuesday, Sep 26, 2017 @ 11:54

  22. Ms.Doubtfire

    This isn’t the only major proposition on the table. How many know about the Workshops last year where discussions took place on major plans to ‘regenerate’ the White Rock area? Scary plans indeed.
    Nothing in the local press – no invite for the public. What is going on here??
    One has to hope our council is not being drawn into more mickey mouse schemes which will cost US money no matter the outcome. Who are these people who are coming to our town with this proposals? Buyer beware.

    Comment by Ms.Doubtfire — Tuesday, Sep 26, 2017 @ 10:04

  23. David Woolf

    I was at the Cabinet meeting, too. While I cannot see any good coming from this proposal it was my observation that ‘members of the public’ chose to leave the meeting on conclusion of discussion of the proposal. The public are entitled to attend such meetings and I was not aware that they were asked to leave.

    Comment by David Woolf — Tuesday, Sep 26, 2017 @ 09:40

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