Hastings & St. Leonards on-line community newspaper

The former Harrow Lane playing fields, site HL2, proposed for residential development with indicative capacity of 212 dwellings.

2039 and all that: Draft Local Plan deadline is 24 March

If you have views on how Hastings should look over the next 20 or so years, time is running out to say so. Bernard McGinley explains what to do.

Every decade or so – a bit like the Census Hastings  Borough Council (HBC) prepares a new Local Plan, to decide on land use in the Borough: new homes, new developments. The future physical infrastructure of the borough is defined, its buildings and spaces, and this has an important bearing on specific planning decisions of the future. So instead of whingeing about planners, this is a chance to tell them now how you think the Borough should look in 2039.

The deadline is Wednesday 24 March, just before midnight. Although at first glance the consultation looks like a tedious questionnaire, it is possible to comment only on those policies or particular areas you are interested in. (Group submissions are acceptable, to avoid duplication.) To do that involves signing in to an OPUS account. There is also a 10-minute video optionally to watch.  

As the Leader of the Council has stated:

The plan includes a minimum target of 4,275 new homes by 2039 and we are expected to see significant growth for Hastings during this period.

It’s an obligatory process ‘to deliver on council objectives and community priorities’, and will set out the council’s spatial strategy for growth and new development in the borough.

Potentially, changes to  public health are involved, as well as the local economy and job opportunities, climate change and zero carbon targets, home and neighbourhood design, and protection of the town’s natural and historic environment.

The documents

The Local Plan is available in several documents:

The complete version: Hastings Local Plan (Regulation 18). This is the white covered HBC version, including Appendix 1: Site Allocation schedule.

There is also a colourful (‘designed’) version of the same, which however lacks Appendix 1: Hastings Local Plan (Regulation 18) without Appendix 1.

The only difference in the two versions is the Appendix (there or not),  and the slick presentation and glossy pictures of the shorter version. Page 69 of the latter shows newly built council housing in Goldsmith Street Norwich, the design which won the RIBA Stirling Prize in 2019. This is the scheme about which, even before it won the Stirling Prize, the then-Leader of Council commented:

We don’t have a Housing Revenue Account any more, sadly, so can’t build council housing.  

On page 62 there is a good photo of Hastings Pier. Is it mentioned that it won the Stirling Prize in 2017? No, not a word. (This was taken as confirmation – again – of the Council’s notorious lack of civic pride.) Other places such as Cardiff (p71) and Saffron Walden (p65) are featured however. Presumably there was a shortage of good modern design locally.

Appendix 1 as a standalone document is also available here: Appendix 1:  Site allocation Schedule

Comments can be made either on paper on the comment form, or through the Council’s online consultation system.

Each comment on a different part of the Plan should be on a new page with a reference to that part. More guidance on commenting is here.  

The main document in either version has:

 Strategic Policies (10 of them), 

 Development Focus Areas (four of them) with ‘potential development sites,’ including  ‘Bohemia’ (though White Rock Gardens would be more accurate). The others  are Hastings Central, little Ridge and Ashdown House, and West Marina and West St Leonards, aka the Bathing Pool site and Bulverhythe Rec;

 Development Policies (eight of them);

 and some technical notes, including explanations of key planning terms such as ‘Green Infrastructure’ and ‘Future Homes Standard’.

The tendency towards jargon and platitude is largely inescapable: worthiness on design including ‘sustainable design’, Tackling Climate Change, Biodiversity, and so on.

The Appendix

The Appendix has crucial information on the sites that are in play (43 in all). Site-specific details are given, for proposals for (for instance) Harrow Lane, Seaside Road, Ore Valley, Debenhams and Braybrooke Road [old] garage, with details of what is proposed. (Note, and quote, the site reference number, bearing in mind that the computer page numbering and paper page numbering are different.) Other smaller sites are listed at the end.

Part of the Station Bowl, site HL33 in the Draft Local Plan (photo: Bernard McGinley).

Wrapping around the Alpha Café site by Warrior Square Station is ‘HL33 – Taxi office and former social club, St Johns Road’. The proposal is for 

Residential led mixed use scheme to include commercial uses at street level to complement the function of the St Leonards District Centre.

Allegedly the proposal

enhances the Kings Road Conservation Area, complements the existing urban form, and enhances the architectural value of the existing buildings.

Believe that and you’ll believe anything, as former Old Town resident the Duke of Wellington once said.

The damage to the Station Bowl would be incalculable. Do visitors travel to St Leonards because it is the same as Greater London? Some travel because it has an intact Victorian atmosphere not now found elsewhere.  

The station with a tunnel at either end is a gem and would be more so if the brickwork were to be cleaned and the Alpha Café restored. Previously (as Site CLB2) it was scheduled to be a small supermarket with a medium-rise block of flats. That threat has not evaporated.

Changes do happen. One instance is that, last time around, Robsack Wood was scheduled for development. Eventually however, following strenuous representations, the Planning Inspector vetoed it and it was made into a Local Nature Reserve

Robsack Wood: saved from development by a planning inspector, following local action (photo: Bernard McGinley).

By 2018 the Council majority group were claiming credit for ‘saving’ Robsack.

Help and aftermath

For those who would like to get involved but are unable to access the internet there is a dedicated voicemail. For help viewing or commenting on the Draft Local Plan,  email the Council on or leave a message on the Local Plan consultation voicemail on 01424 451102 and someone from the Council will reply.

Following closure of consultation this week, contributions will be reviewed and published anonymously. In the autumn the proposed revised draft Local Plan will be published and submitted to the Planning Inspectorate for independent assessment.

Adoption of the new Hastings Local Plan is likely to be in the Summer of 2022.


If you’re enjoying HOT and would like us to continue providing fair and balanced reporting on local matters please consider making a donation. Click here to open our PayPal donation link.

Thank you for your continued support!

Posted 13:27 Tuesday, Mar 23, 2021 In: Home Ground

Also in: Home Ground

More HOT Stuff

    HOT is run by volunteers but has overheads for hosting and web development. Support HOT!


    Advertise your business or your event on HOT for as little as £20 per month
    Find out more…


    If you like HOT and want to keep it sustainable, please Donate via PayPal, it’s easy!


    Do you want to write, proofread, edit listings or help sell advertising? then contact us

  • Subscribe to HOT