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Rock-crushing on the Archery Ground.

Rock-crushing on the Archery Ground.

HBC to halt premature Archery Ground works

Alerted to the occurrence of unauthorised works on the Archery Ground, Hastings Borough Council has moved to have them halted. Several pre-conditions, including the approval of a construction management plan, have still to be fulfilled by the developer. Nick Terdre reports.

When planning permission for the proposed development on the Archery Ground in St Leonards was granted in 2015, a number of conditions were attached which are required to be fulfilled before the start of development work.

However, Hastings Borough Council’s (HBC) planning department has received reports that Gemselect, which took over the development and last year successfully applied to have some aspects of the planning permission altered, had begun development work while some of the pre-conditions remain undischarged.

“Works have started on site without all the pre commencement conditions being complied with,” the council told HOT. “The developer has been given a short period of time within which to provide relevant information. Once that period of time has expired, and if the conditions still haven’t been met, the Council will consider the best route of enforcement to take.”

Activity on Archery Ground.

Construction management plan

Among the pre-conditions is the submission and approval of a construction management plan, “setting out mitigation measures to protect against disruption caused during demolition and construction.” A scheme for the provision of  affordable housing also has to be submitted and approved.

In early June, Gemselect filed an application for the discharge of these and other conditions, which the case officer acknowledged in mid June. Her acknowledgement is the most recent document listed on the council’s planning pages for the development. A construction programme – schedule of works – has been filed but there is no sign of a construction management plan.

The developer also has to reach agreement with East Sussex County Council, as the highway authority, concerning the impact of construction activity on roads in the area – Archery Road, which circles most of the Archery Ground, is fairly small, as are most of the other roads leading to the site. It is the responsibility of the developer to repair any road damage caused by construction traffic. On Monday 26 June ESCC told HOT they were still waiting for some relevant information and no agreement had yet been reached.

Buildings at the bottom of West Hill Road have been demolished.

Buildings at the bottom of West Hill Road have been demolished.

Demolition work took place over several months and now appears to be completed – all the buildings on the main site and the smaller site at the bottom of West Hill Road have disappeared. In recent days material, presumably resulting from the demolition, has been put through a crushing machine on the main site.

Key site

The matter was brought to the attention of the planning department by Chris Lewcock, a member of the Burtons’ St Leonards Society management committee.

“This is a key site in the heart of historic Burtons’ St Leonards, one of the Borough’s most important cultural assets,” Mr Lewcock told HOT. “A lot of effort was put in by local residents, led by STAG [Save The Archery Ground], over several years to ensure that an appropriately designed scheme was eventually approved.

“The approval is subject to many conditions. Information on these should have been submitted to and signed off by the Council before any works commenced. Work has already started but much of the information needed to clear the conditions has not been submitted or has already been rejected by the Council.

“It was only after chasing by residents and after a lot of clearance work had already been done that tree protection fences were properly installed. Residents are now having to press the Council to deal with unauthorised building works, including very noisy rock-crushing. The Council is being supportive in proposing to serve breach of condition notices.

“However, in light of the flagrant disregard by the developers of their planning obligations and the continuing damage to local amenities and roads, the Council should be taking immediate firmer action in serving a Stop notice to halt works whilst all the outstanding matters are sorted out.”

Gemselect was asked to comment on the matter but at presstime no response had been received.
This article was amended by Nick Terdre on 26 June 2017.

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Posted 09:34 Friday, Jun 23, 2017 In: Home Ground


Please read our comment guidelines before posting on HOT

  1. Bernard Fox

    I agree with Mr Heritage entirely. Where the overriding instincts of developers for profit are twinned with a lack of imagination neighbours ultimately pay the price of having to endure these developments for many years to come. I met with the architects last year at an open day and was pretty unimpressed. One of the practices hacks that I talked with told me that they intended to introduce some individuality to the scheme by painting doors of the dwellings in different colours! For him it may have been a eureka moment, for me it illustrated the bland municipality of their approach. It seems to me their energies are misplaced and totally out of step with what was, and what is increasingly becoming a high value area once again. Poor quality housing will serve no on, especially not the developers.In view of the process by which Gem Select have pared away the quality constituents of the original plans it seems clear that they have appropriated the site either in error or by promising too much. In many cases local authorities collude in this process by not imposing adequate controls at the outset. I commend everyone in the locality who has been involved in monitoring Gemselect’s conduct in this process since public pressure is perhaps the only way that modifications can be made.If that doesn’t work then a blunt instrument may have to be the last resort!

    Comment by Bernard Fox — Thursday, Jun 29, 2017 @ 13:31

  2. Ms.Doubtfire

    Our Council Leader Peter Chowney lives just around the corner form this site – why didn’t he alert his planning officers to the unauthorised works?

    Comment by Ms.Doubtfire — Saturday, Jun 24, 2017 @ 16:44

  3. Ms.Doubtfire

    This is very much a case of deja vu – residents and local Councillors protested when they witnessed the clearnace of the West Hill Road site last year (the site near TK Max). Works continued and inevitably the outcome was the destruction of the protected wildlife, trees felled during the nesting season and the loss of protected flora.
    The council stated that despite the planning permission being some three decades since approval there was nothing they could do to halt the works. Not so. The Wildlife and Countryside Act prohibits the destruction of protected flora and fauna. It is a criminal offence if these regulations are breached.
    No ecololgical mitigation procedures in place and the developer continued working the site even after the council had told them to cease all works. Only after the entire site had been flattened did these developers commission an ecology report.
    Why is this council seemingly so reluctant to serve Stop notices on developers who flout the law????

    Comment by Ms.Doubtfire — Friday, Jun 23, 2017 @ 19:53

  4. Richard Heritage

    This site has been nothing short of a complete disaster as far as the Planning Department is concerned. James Burton will be turning in his grave over this. The once beautiful Archery Ground with three Burton houses ( demolished by yours truly the council ) now the biggest eyesore in the borough. And will continue to be when they have built the intended rubbish called homes here.
    None of this would have been necessary if the very original plans for the site had been agreed by the council. It was a reasonable and well thought out development, considering the area. But no then head of planning at HBC said no there were not enough “UNITS” for the site and this is where all this tragic mess began.
    One of the ironies here is you have the leaders of both local political parties who live with a minutes walk, what have they done to ensure this lovely area would not get destroyed ??? Make your on conclusion on that

    Comment by Richard Heritage — Friday, Jun 23, 2017 @ 17:52

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