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Stade Amusement Park from the Boating Lake

Foreshore Trust continues not to do its job

Since 1893 the Foreshore Trust (FT) has existed continuously, to protect the Foreshore from Rock-a-Nore to Glyne Gap. So why doesn’t it? Why is it passive and supine and secretive? Why does the Council abet this gormlessness? Before the FT’s Annual General Meeting (AGM) on Monday 14 March, Bernard McGinley revisits an issue that keeps being ignored.

In February 2019, HOT ran a story: 

The clarity the Foreshore Trust owes the public is missing

It still is, and matters have got worse since then. Other reports reflected the problem of unaccountability, of indifference to responsibilities and public opinion:

Foreshore inaction fails to impress, again            

“Enclosure by stealth” irks Old Town residents  

Since Victorian times the Trust has existed to uphold the local foreshore 

for the common use benefit and enjoyment of all Her Majesty’s subjects and of the public for the time being for ever. 

Despite that clarity, the news is rarely good:

Rollercoaster induces nausea over the Stade Amusement Park      

Right to pathway being walked all over               

HBC planners back amusement park changes  

The FT as a charity (No 1105649) is separate from Hastings Borough Council (HBC), but in practice the administrations overlap (as when HBC’s Chief  Accountant speaks for the FT at the Charity Committee despite the Trust having its own well-qualified Protector).  

There are so many disregards. On 27 May 2021, the FT Chair was asked to comment on the disorderly developments at the Stade Amusement Park. There was no reply. On 9 June all the Trustees were asked. There was no reply. On 18 October they were asked again. There was no reply. On 13 January 2022 they were asked yet again. Again there was no reply or statement to other media.  

This is not protecting the interests of the public for the time being for ever. Council officers are similarly shtum regarding matters of enforcement such as the year-old case ENF/21/00091 on the Amusement Park. 

The reports are many, including:

Second bid for control of Old Town footpath        

The pattern here is that the FT never responds to criticism or even polite enquiry. For a charitable cause that’s odd. Its charitable objects are:

(1)  TO HOLD AND MAINTAIN THE CHARITY’S LAND . . .

The current Trustees are Cllrs Webb, Rogers, and Batsford. They also constitute the HBC Charity Committee, and are nearly half of the HBC Cabinet.

FT AGM: Monday 14 March

The Trust’s Annual General Meeting is on Monday 14 March at Muriel Matters House, near the seafront fountain in Breeds Place. The Charity Committee is at 6:00 p.m., and the FT AGM is at 6:30, and it will also be livestreamed. The brief indicated structure includes half-an-hour of public questions. 

Amusement Park perimeter

Stade Amusement Park

Much of the Stade is dominated by the Amusement Park, which unfortunately has a history of planning abuses. There have been breaches of compliance in planning cases HS/FA/17/01056, and HS/FA/18/01009. The Amusement Park’s application HS/CD/21/00240 was opposed by the Council’s Conservation Officer and remains unapproved after nearly a year. The Enforcement officer in contrast does nothing.  

Higher fencing was permitted under HS/FA/20/00355 (applicant Mr  M Lee, pp Stade Family Amusement Park) but has yet to be implemented.

The Stade footpath was said to be reopening last summer, but it has not. The basis of its reopening (sometimes?  not 24/7 as previously?) was not addressed, either by the Amusement Park, or the Trust, or the Council.    

A present live case is HS/FA/21/00946 (applicant as 00355), for a bloating of Amusement Park buildings.  It has been much objected to. No committee date has yet been set. 

O, Vienna

In the 1990s, Harry Symonds owned the Stade Amusement Park. Then he sold it to Henry Moreton’s Stade Developments (Hastings) Ltd in about 1999 (a company in turn involved in Cornshire Ltd).

About seven years ago, repair works by the Boating Lake were stipulated by the FT as freeholder, but a new lease and sublease were signed without the repair works being done. Weeks later, in August 2016 Henry Moreton disposed of the Flamingo Family Entertainment Centre and Stade Amusement Park to Luxury Leisure. From an FT perspective this is inept. From the perspective of Her Majesty’s subjects on the beach it looks gravely irresponsible, even negligent. Despite the efforts of the sometime Chair the late Cllr John Hodges, the substantial benefits to the Amusement Park (including more space) were not reflected in similar benefits to the FT on behalf of the public. 

Luxury Leisure are a Gateshead-based subsidiary of Novomatic, a controversial Austrian gambling corporation. This is where effective control of the Stade now lies.  Novomatic were involved in the fall of the Austrian head of government, Sebastian Kurz, late last year.

As far as can be ascertained, Luxury Leisure lease the Stade land from the FT, with part of it being sublet by them to Flamingo Park Ltd. This makes Mike Lee of Flamingo Park a subleaseholder, on a sub-tenancy agreement expiring in 2032. After the 2016 takeover, with legal help he made an affidavit to say he was the freeholder of the funfair site, and had been since 2002. However, the FT seems to have done little about this assertion about Mr Lee as freeholder. Why not?  

Enclosure & consultation

The recent history is beset by issues of GPD (General Permitted Development) and PDR Permitted Development Rights), devised by central government to smooth development. The fairground attractions in themselves are not an FT matter. It has not however been explained why the Foreshore Trust as landlord would readily accept path-loss and closures and enclosures: literally barriers to the public good.

The Coastal Users Group (CUG) has a consultative role that seems to be routinely ignored. Perennial grievances such as the Stade footpath and legal advice (lack of) are met with placation of the ‘stakeholder reference group’. 

Home on the Boating Lake, for now

What next?

The foreshore situation remains unsatisfactory but remedies may be possible. The Trustees could recognise their responsibilities and develop principles such as openness and transparency, and seek independent legal advice on matters including: 

  the permanent reopening of the Stade footpath, 24/7

  securing and recognition of a Public Right Of Way (PROW) there, by East Sussex County Council  (ESCC) 

  leasehold renegotiation, including clarification of the status of Mr Lee

  safeguarding the future of the Boating Lake (as woolly assurances are not good enough)

■  discussion with HBC Enforcement about inaction (their year-long enquiry ENF/21/00091 e.g.) and noncompliance

case HS/FA/22/00005 for a foreshore building 75 yards long, (with a platform lift for wheelchair-users (unlawful)), on which the Trust must have an opinion

the prospect of a single-use licence being sought again for the Amusement Park.  

At the very least, the Trust (and the Council) should explain themselves to the people of Hastings, over their failure to protect the foreshore, and the apparent conflict of interest between the two. To many it seems that the Trustees do not fulfil their role.

The path not taken

 

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Posted 12:27 Friday, Mar 11, 2022 In: Home Ground,HOT Topics

1 Comment

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  1. Bernard McGinley

    To clarify: Permitted Development Right (PDR) does not mean Anything Goes. The rollercoaster remains objectionable on the grounds of noise, and impact on a ‘designated area’. This includes the local Conservation Area, including long-distance views. (See also House of Commons Briefing Paper Number 00485, 4 June 2021:
    https://researchbriefings.files.parliament.uk/documents/SN00485/SN00485.pdf)

    The Foreshore Trust does little to protect Hastings beach and neither does HBC planning department. Members and officers must do better.

    Comment by Bernard McGinley — Sunday, Mar 13, 2022 @ 15:56

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