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Protest rally against North Queensway plans

Seachangewatch plans to hold an in-situ rally to protest against the development plans for Sea Change Sussex’s North Queensway Innovation Park next Sunday. Meanwhile the sustainability statement in support of the application has come in for heavy criticism from community energy consultant Energise Sussex Coast. Nick Terdre reports.

A rally has been called on the site of the North Queensway Innovation Park by Seachangewatch to protest against Sea Change Sussex’s plans to develop the site which, it argues, threaten the adjacent Marline Valley nature reserve.

The rally, at 2pm on Sunday 8 August, will feature speakers and a chance to take a guided tour of the nature reserve, said Seachangewatch, which monitors Sea Change’s activities.

The planning application (HS/FA/21/00327) calls for a number of speculative industrial units to be built over some 4,000 sq metres of the proposed business park, where the original offer for tenants to build their own premises brought no takers.

The proposal, for which Sea Change Sussex has been awarded a £3.5m grant from the government’s Getting Building Fund by the South East Local Enterprise Partnership, has attracted nearly 190 objections as well as a petition.

Sussex Wildlife Trust leases the Marline Valley nature reserve from HBC.

Several consultees have also opposed the plans, including Sussex Wildlife Trust, which leases the nature reserve from Hastings Borough Council. “We do not believe the proposal complies with national or local biodiversity policy and are concerned about the risk to the SSSI [site of special scientific interest],” it cites as grounds for its objection.

Natural England, which has previously detailed “considerable concerns” about the potential impact of the development on Marline Valley, says in its response that further information is required on seven specific points to assess whether its concerns have been met.

“Misleading and inaccurate claims”

Meanwhile Energise Sussex Coast, a community energy advisory group though not a statutory consultee, takes issue with the sustainability statement filed as part of the application, which it says “makes a number of misleading and inaccurate claims.” One of these is that the gas combi-boiler heating system selected as the best energy option for the development “ensures that the scheme delivers optimum efficiency whilst minimising the emissions of pollutants” – if made at COP26, this “would make Hastings Council (and the UK’s zero carbon commitment) a global laughing stock,” comments ESC.

It also criticises claims in the statement relating to biomass boilers, the cost of solar PV and the performance of heat pumps.

“Energise Sussex Coast’s objections to the Sustainability Statement that accompanies our planning application are woefully misconceived, quoting selective parts of our Statement incompletely and taking them out of context,” Sea Change told HOT.

“We take sustainability seriously in the design of our buildings and employ specialist sustainability advisors on all our development projects.  In drawing up the North Queensway industrial scheme, we’ve taken concerns about the neighbouring environment carefully into account and conducted detailed site surveys to ensure we developed a design that would have a negligible impact on the Marline Valley.”

Much-needed premises

“We know our industrial scheme is opposed by a few local anti-development protestors, but we’re looking at the community as a whole and confident our scheme would provide much-needed premises to help local companies to expand, to support jobs for local people and to give the area’s economy a post-COVID boost.

“We’ve brought the scheme forward, on a site which Hastings’ Local Plan already earmarks for business use, to address the acute lack of suitable local industrial properties. A recent independent report found existing industrial properties in the area are at near-100% occupancy and there’s a severe lack of sites available for development, which is holding back business growth.

“We also always consider a wide array of technologies and methods to deliver commercial properties that balance sustainability with high quality and affordability for local businesses. And we’ve had considerable success in applying this approach – enabling businesses to invest, grow and create jobs in the Hastings and Bexhill area, which remains our highest priority.”

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Posted 14:31 Wednesday, Aug 4, 2021 In: Home Ground

6 Comments

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  1. Energise Sussex Coast

    It is not helpful simply to say that statements were misconceived or taken out of context without explanation. We invite Sea Change to detail their objections to the ESC submission.

    Today’s IPCC report puts all this into it real context

    https://www.theguardian.com/science/2021/aug/09/humans-have-caused-unprecedented-and-irreversible-change-to-climate-scientists-warn

    Comment by Energise Sussex Coast — Monday, Aug 9, 2021 @ 11:09

  2. Philip Oakley

    Well done Andrea. There are so many green spaces in Hastings under threat of development now it’s very depressing. It appears the government funding for these schemes overrides the need for sensible debate about what kind of town we want to live in. Hastings Council strategy has no vision, it’s strategy is purely based on what funding is available.
    There are so many talented architects, developers and other creative thinkers in this Town that the need for housing and workspace can be addressed without building on green spaces. But the Council will not listen or seek the advice of others who might have a solution to this problem.

    Comment by Philip Oakley — Sunday, Aug 8, 2021 @ 09:38

  3. Sal Phipps

    Hope to be there to support you on Sunday.I walk my dog at least twice a week in the valley.
    I am also opposing the new cycle way through the middle of our beautiful Alexandra Park.There is a massive amount of opposition to this and as usual the Council just aren’t listening. So anything that anyone can do to make them realise that as residents we actually DO care about any changes to Hastings.

    Comment by Sal Phipps — Thursday, Aug 5, 2021 @ 16:02

  4. DAR

    It really is time HBC & Co. started to resist pressure to develop our local green spaces. We’ve had huge developments of one sort or another on such spaces since the 1980s. It’s time to stop – enough is enough.

    Comment by DAR — Thursday, Aug 5, 2021 @ 15:31

  5. Dave walters

    Well said Andrea, and keep doing the great job of holding to account the shower that are (currently) known as Sea Change

    Comment by Dave walters — Thursday, Aug 5, 2021 @ 11:17

  6. Andrea Needham

    SeaChange says ‘We know our industrial scheme is opposed by a few local anti-development protestors’. Really? This is just nonsense: there are nearly 200 objections to this scheme (more if you add in the petition), and not a single comment in support. I’m absolutely certain that many of those objectors would be horrified to be characterised as ‘anti-development protestors’. What they are is local people, worried about plans in which the pursuit of profit outweighs genuine concerns about threats to our green spaces.

    SeaChange has rolled out this phrase on several occasions before, notably in regard to objectors to the Queensway Gateway road. There, it is now trying to blame ‘protestors’ for a ‘large part’ of the current five (probably to be seven) year delay where the reality was that a legal challenge on grounds of air pollution (intially successful, until SeaChange found a ‘methodological error’ in their original plans, and changed the figures, a move which was accepted without question by HBC’s planning committee) delayed the road by six months. That’s not really a ‘large part’ of five years but it suits SeaChange’s narrative to pretend that the utter chaos of this scheme is due not to their own bad decisions and inability to manage a project, but to ‘protestors’.

    I’ve been campaigning on SeaChange for years. I can honestly say that in that time, I have never heard a single positive comment about the company. These so-called ‘anti-development protestors’ seem to be in fact the majority of ordinary people in Hastings, who do not want millions of pounds of public money spent on trashing our green spaces.

    Comment by Andrea Needham — Wednesday, Aug 4, 2021 @ 22:41

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