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Now approved, the Archery Ground redevelopment will start with demolition of the main college building.

Controversial schemes get green light

Last week’s planning committee meeting was lively, with controversial schemes for the Archery Ground and numbers 1 and 3 Chapel Park Road on the agenda. Bernard McGinley, who was among the throng at Hastings Town Hall, found grounds to wonder at some of the committee’s actions.

On 6 November, the Council’s planning committee considered the revised plans for the Archery Ground site in St Leonards. The previous application, recommended for acceptance by officers, was voted for by Cllrs Godfrey Daniel and Bruce Dowling in summer 2012 but rejected 8–2.  The developer’s appeal was subsequently rejected by the Planning Inspectorate.  Since then Gladedale have changed their name to Avant Homes.

Answering questions, the architect of the revised scheme, Marcus Beale, explained the new layout and design, and told the committee that 81 trees were being lost, and 124 were being planted. He also described the community outreach work done regarding the project.

Local resident Martin Cooper petitioned the committee about the treatment of trees on the western part of the site, parking provision, and the alleged lack of transparency of STAG, the Save the Archery Ground campaign. (He appears unfortunately to have missed STAG’s public meetings.)

After discussion, the committee passed the plans unanimously, with congratulations for the new architects and how the design was achieved, for the work of STAG and for community involvement.  Demolition of the college buildings is expected to begin after Christmas.

Local participation was less well treated in the case of 1 and 3 Chapel Park Road.  The relatively good Archery Ground news deflected from the more brutal treatment of the two Victorian villas overlooking Warrior Square station: replacement by a prosaic block of 29 flats and ‘parking under’ was approved.

Instability issue ignored

Marigold Chamberlin spoke for many as she described St Leonards as a planned town, and how this block of flats would badly damage the positive regeneration of the area. She told of the site’s history of land instability between 1998 and 2004 (known to the developer and the council, but nowhere acknowledged). Despite the important points she raised, the committee asked her not a single question.

The papers prepared by the planning department for the committee ignore the fact that there are problems of instability, stating at one point (p.63):

The Building Control Manager has stated that there are no issues with instability at the site.

However this claim was later contradicted by the council’s development manager, who made passing acknowledgement of underpinning and bad experiences. If land is unstable, there are clear rules on how to proceed, as laid down in planning policy guideline DG21 (Development on Unstable Land):

Planning applications relating to such sites should include a report on the stability of the land, indicating how any problems would be overcome.

The application includes no such report.

Former planning committee regular Cllr Andrew Cartwright also spoke against, and explained why the new application was not bound by precedent, but one to be treated on its own merits. He also stated concerns about the likely impact of the flats on HBC’s Cultural Quarter around Warrior Square station — also an economic matter, and grounds for refusal.

For the committee, the expedient device of ‘permission with condition’ was arrived at.  A site survey will be carried out to identify what remedial works may be necessary — although planning permission was granted in advance of this step.

The flats were approved by 8 votes to 2, the objectors being Cllrs Robert Cooke and Alan Roberts (the mayor). Some other members stated their dislike of the design, but voted for it anyway. According to Cllr Dowling, there were no reasons to oppose — this despite the many informed letters and emails of objection in the case, including from Network Rail.

Publication of the professional geological site-survey is keenly awaited.

 

1 and 3 Chapel Park Road: application and objections can be seen here.

Information on the Archery Ground scheme from the architect’s website..

 

Posted 11:47 Wednesday, Nov 13, 2013 In: Home Ground

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