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The Archery Ground has a new owner.

The Archery Ground has a new owner.

Archery Ground: new owner seeks changes

A new owner has acquired the Archery Ground in St Leonards and applied to make changes to the planning permission granted to its predecessor. A number of objections have been lodged, including by the Save The Archery Ground group. Nick Terdre reports.

The new owner of the Archery Ground is the Battle-based builder Gemselect, which has teamed up with Orbit Homes, a housing association, to develop the site. It acquired the property in February from the original developer, best known as Gladedale although it now trades as Avant Homes.

Gemselect is seeking a number of variations to the revised scheme approved by the council’s planning committee in November 2013. It wishes to increase the number of affordable homes from a minimum of 26 to 76 – 50 of these would be rented out and 26 made available for shared ownership, Gemselect director Gordon Ritchie told HOT.

It also wishes to reduce the height of one of the two tower blocks by removing two floors intended for storage, change some flat roofs to pitched and provide railings and hedges over low walls in place of high blank walls. These proposals are contained in an application submitted to the planning department but not yet (as of 17 March) posted on the HBC website.

A second application, which can be viewed on the website under ref. HS/FA/15/00107, seeks the removal of the footbridge connecting the northern part of the site to Highlands Gardens. This proposal was instigated by Orbit on health and safety grounds and because the bridge “will need to be monitored, insured and maintained regularly at a cost to the residents…” adding to an “already expensive service charge with the potential for rental arrears to become apparent…”

When Marcus Beale, which has been retained as architect, aired Orbit’s objections to Sussex Police, they responded with a fulsome statement backing the removal of the bridge. Their remarks were made from a “purely from a crime prevention viewpoint,” they said in their response, suggesting that the bridge “might create a focal gathering point with potential for noise and anti social behaviour,” and if it were removed there would be fewer routes for criminals to escape along, and fewer excuses for offenders to be in the area.

However, it is hard to spot any crime prevention aspect in their claim that, “The inclusion of this bridge is of no real benefit to the residents of the Archery Road scheme, as their main focus of movement would be to the south toward the seafront.”

The application has drawn a number of objections. Lee Wilson, on behalf of the Save the Archery Ground group, points out that when the present scheme was approved, the bridge was described as “an important benefit” and a “particularly positive new feature”; it had been added to the scheme to link residents in the most distant corner of the site to the world outside. Without the bridge, anyone wanting to go north to Pevensey Road will face a much longer journey down to one of the exits to the south and then up again to Highland Gardens and Pevensey Road, not a welcome prospect for the elderly, infirm and very young.

Preparatory work for demolition of the old college building is under way.

After Gladedale’s revised scheme was approved in November 2013, Marcus Beale said it expected demolition of the college building, which has been extensively vandalised, to begin in early 2014. Nothing much happened, apparently due to the discovery of asbestos in the building. Gemselect, however, has swiftly moved into action: the asbestos has been stripped out and a soft strip – removal of rubbish and debris – is under way, according to Mr Ritchie. He expects demolition to start in two to three weeks’ time and to be completed in three to four months.

By then the fate of the new planning applications should have been decided. The earliest the bridge application will come before the planning committee is 29 April, according to a planning official.


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Posted 20:04 Tuesday, Mar 17, 2015 In: Home Ground

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