Sports village proposal moves ahead
The new sports village proposed to provide new grounds for Hastings United Football Club and Horntye Park sports complex has passed the first stage of scrutiny by the council. Among the next steps is the negotiation of terms for the sale of council land on which the village is to be built. Nick Terdre reports.
At its meeting on 6 March the Hastings Borough Council cabinet found plenty to like about the ambitious development project, which involves an investment of some £70 million to build nearly 400 new housing units as well as a multi-sport facility.
Among the potential benefits listed in the minutes are a significant contribution to the borough’s housing targets, an improved sporting provision, employment gains, and capital receipts and revenue cost savings for the council.
The meeting decided unanimously to move onto the next step, establishing terms with the developers, Bohemia Hastings LLP and Keepmoat Ltd, principally for the sale of HBC-owned land in Bexhill Road recreation ground. But any further progress will depend on the results of an independent study of the benefits and viability of the scheme which the council has commissioned and the developers will pay for.
“We are delighted with the Cabinet decision to move forward with this exciting project,” Hastings United Football Club (HUFC) director, Peter Sherlock told HOT. “We will continue to work collaboratively with the Council and hope that a Planning Application will be submitted later this year once the terms are settled. Public consultation will commence in the next few weeks.
“The scheme is a real opportunity to secure new Stadium, Sports and Recreation facilities for the local community as well as quality new homes. This represents £70 million of new investment in the region.”
The council-owned land, a greenfield site, will be the location of the sports hub and some of the housing. The remainder of the housing will be built on HUFC’s current ground at Pilot Field and Horntye Park.
RDC and HBC both involved
Bexhill Road recreation park lies within the boundaries of Rother District Council, which will be responsible for granting planning permission for this site, while planning permission for the Pilot Field and Horntye Park is a matter for HBC. It is at this stage that planning issues including consideration of policy, flooding and environmental matters will be dealt with.
According to the cabinet’s briefing paper, Bohemia Hastings, which has been set up specifically for this project, has two directors, Peter Sherlock and Daren Burney. It notes that the Bohemia group has a controlling interest in HUFC and an option to develop the Horntye site.
The Sherlock Consultancy, of which Mr Sherlock is managing director, and the Burney Group, where Mr Burney is CEO, are both sponsors of HUFC.
Keepmoat will be responsible for the physical development of both the housing and leisure facilities. “Our confidence in Keepmoat will be crucial because the Council would want to be assured that the sports facilities will be delivered in a satisfactory and timely way,” the briefing paper says.
Wide range of sports facilities
The sports facilities will be owned by an amended Horntye charitable trust and run by a professional leisure company on its behalf. Among the facilities will be a football stadium for HUFC, a 3G (synthetic surface) pitch for football, rugby and American football, five full-size and various smaller football pitches, an artificial grass hockey pitch, two cricket pitches and nets, a sports hall with substantial gym facilities, and netball, squash and petanque courts.
Car parking for 377 cars and coaches will be provided and a visitor centre for the Pebsham Countryside Park will be established in a refurbished pavilion.
Plans call for some 162 homes to be built at Horntye, 70 at Pilot Field and 164 on the lower tier site at Bexhill Road recreation ground, making a total of 396. Council policies indicate an affordable home quota of 125, according to the briefing paper.
But it adds that, “It may be open to the Council to consider with the developers varying the affordable proportions across the three sites to improve the housing offer and maximise delivery of the overall project.”
Some of the housing may be acquired by the council’s newly established housing company, possibly in payment, or part payment, for the land.
When HUFC first revealed the scheme in late 2016, it said it hoped to have it implemented in time for the 2018/19 football season. Following postponement of cabinet consideration from February to March, and with substantial work, including a public consultation, to be done before planning permission can be expected, this may no longer be a viable target.
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