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View over the “green lung” Harrow Lane playing field.

Harrow Lane playing field sale prompts Tory protest meeting

Conservative councillors have called a protest meeting for Saturday 10 July against the sale by the council of the Harrow Lane playing field, which is among a cluster of four sites in the area where housing developments are planned. Nick Terdre reports.

The Conservative group on Hastings Borough Council says it is “firmly opposed to the sale of Harrow Lane playing fields, a “precious green space which, once the adjoining development sites are built on, will be the only and last remaining ‘green lung’ in Ashdown Ward.

“If the pandemic has taught us anything it is that we need space to exercise, walk the dog, kick a ball about and generally chill out. We all know what happened on the adjoining site, it looks like a moonscape now but imagine 67 houses crammed onto that site,” they say.

“They want to put more than 140 houses on the Playing Field site. We plan to hold a protest meeting there on Saturday 10 July to tell the Labour Party that the Playing Field is ‘NOT FOR SALE’ and we would welcome all residents to come and join us to make their feelings known.“

Constantly parked traffic along Harrow Lane restricts the width of road available to traffic.

In a recent contribution to HOT on this issue, Ashdown councillor Mike Edwards talked of the “unfolding disaster taking place in Ashdown Ward” and the “densely packed housing on pocket handkerchief sized plots with no garages and narrow roads jammed with parked cars” if all four developments went ahead.

In addition to the 140 houses on the playing field for which outline planning permission has been given, a development involving 210 units is under way on land south of Holmhurst St Mary and an application is pending for 152 dwellings on the site of Ashdown House on the other side of Harrow Lane.

However Park Lane’s application to build 67 houses on land between the playing field and The Ridge was turned down by the planning committee in April on the grounds that the scheme amounted to an overdevelopment of the site. The developer, which had already cleared the land of all vegetation, has the option of appealing.

Covenant complication

HBC has put the playing field site up for sale though it is not known to have found a taker so far. The sale is complicated by the fact that when the land was passed to the council in 1874, it came with a covenant forbidding the construction of more than one house per acre.

From the Local Plan.

A council document assessing the legality of the sale states: “This covenant may still be enforceable…This could be a potential issue for a purchaser who wanted to develop.”

Hastings & Rye MP Sally-Ann Hart is expected to attend the protest meeting which will take place at 11am on the playing field, Cllr Edwards told HOT.

While concern about the cluster of developments was being expressed prior to May’s local elections, the Conservative group of councillors has been revitalised by winning four seats under its new leader, Cllr Andy Patmore. Edward’s fellow councillor for Ashdown is another Tory, newly re-elected Sorrell Marlow-Eastwood.


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Posted 17:22 Sunday, Jul 4, 2021 In: Campaigns


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  1. Cllr Paul Foster

    The council should place more emphasis on using brown field sites as a priority. We should not be using recreation fields. I have started a petition against the sale of Harrow Lane Playing Field. It can be found at uk under the title ‘Not For Sale! Hastings Borough Council Must Not Sell The Harrow Lane Playing Field’ Please sign on-line and encourage your friends and family to do the same.

    Comment by Cllr Paul Foster — Tuesday, Jul 6, 2021 @ 13:03

  2. DAR

    I’d just like to say that this is an issue that concerns residents regardless of their usual political persuasions. It just so happens that Ashdown has Tory councillors who are “on the case”.

    Comment by DAR — Tuesday, Jul 6, 2021 @ 10:05

  3. ken davis

    This is definitely not building at ‘high density’ and it is much better to build here than on a floodplain as HBC are planning at Bexhill Road and the old bathing pool site. But, any new construction must now be of low to zero energy design and sustainable in terms of material quality too unlike the developers who usually build in Hastings.

    Comment by ken davis — Monday, Jul 5, 2021 @ 08:46

  4. Penny

    When will they ever learn?
    If it’s not plastering the Country Park with solar panels, it’s flogging off / building all over our precious green spaces.
    We value our assets in our beloved town. Councillors please take note and give constructive, not ruinous, thought to solving our housing problems.

    Comment by Penny — Sunday, Jul 4, 2021 @ 23:53

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