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Foreshore Trust fails again

The beach charity is rarely far from controversy. Bernard McGinley reports on the latest one.

The poor record of the Foreshore Trust (FT) is well known. It has been chronicled often by HOT.

The Charity was founded in 1893 to protect the local foreshore, from Rock-A Nore to Glyne Gap. Recognised by the Charity Commission with Charity Number 1105649, its sole Trustee is Hastings Borough Council (HBC). In practice this means the entire Charity Committee, all three of them.

On its website HBC ringingly declares:

When making decisions relating to or affecting the Charity, it must act in its best interests.

So where are the best interests in deciding not to decide?

Crazy golf application

The crazy golf site opposite the mouth of George Street has put in a planning application, HS/FA/22/00005, to take most of the attractions indoors:

The enclosure of the existing pirate golf course with a part 1 part 2 storey building | Miniature Golf and Crazy Golf Courses on the Stade, Marine Parade, Hastings, TN34 3AG

The proposed new building will be 75 yards long (over 68 metres), running from the Pelham Place games court to near the Deluxe. Some of the building is to be two-storey. Sea views will be obstructed. 

The Planning Committee report on the application has information on the interest taken:

The Foreshore Trust — no comments to make on the application: 

Acting as Estates Manager for the Foreshore Trust, there are no comments to make on the application. 

Hastings Borough Council (Estates) — no objection: Confirm no objection is raised with regard to the planning application.

The officers’ recommendation to the Planning Committee is: 

Grant Full Planning Permission

though the Council’s own Conservation Officer takes a different view:

The two sets of amendments submitted have repeatedly failed to address the fundamental heritage objections to the scheme, namely:

·   The inappropriate height, scale and massing of the proposed development and its detrimental impact on the character and appearance of the Old Town Conservation Area.

·   The harmful impact of the development on the established open aspect of the foreshore and the visual linkages between the beach and the historic buildings that face the beach.

Committees

The crazy golf application is on the Planning Committee agenda for Wednesday 1 June.

For months the Trust has ignored this case: a classic case of No FT, No Comment. Who are the mute Trustees?  Cllrs Webb, Batsford and Rogers.

After the recent elections however, Cllr Roark became a member of the reconstituted Charity Committee, so far the only one and thus the only Trustee. The sustained do-nothing record here is not of her making. The other new Trustees will be named at the 6 June Cabinet meeting, two from a Cabinet pool of Cllrs Batsford, Rogers, Willis, Evans, and Barnett (Labour), and Cllrs Haffenden and Hilton (Green).

The first Charity Committee meeting will be on 27 June, and the FT Annual Meeting will be 12 September (though last year’s was postponed for six months).

Despite the lack of representation from the FT, a deferral of the planning decision was ruled out. By chance Cllr Roark is on the Planning Committee. Will she speak for the FT? No, she will be declaring a prejudicial interest and leaving the room for that agenda item discussion

FOR EVER

The FT has formal priorities:

Charitable objects

(1) TO HOLD AND MAINTAIN THE CHARITY’S LAND FOR THE OBJECTS SET OUT IN THE TRUSTS OF THE CHARITY, NAMELY FOR THE COMMON USE, BENEFIT AND ENJOYMENT OF ALL HER MAJESTY’S SUBJECTS AND OF THE PUBLIC FOR THE TIME BEING FOR EVER . . .

Clearly it is not doing that if it can’t give an opinion on a 75-yard-long building on the beach. Whatever their attitude, the Trustees should explain themselves.

Additionally matters such as the Stade footpath possible reopening (when, and on what basis?) and the future of the Boating Lake also require attention, and definition of their freehold that the Stade funfair also claims part of.

The new-membership FT is expected to be better than the old FT, and the one before that. As of 1 June the FT accounts are 121 days overdue at the Charity Commission.  Clearly there’s room for improvement.  The protection of the foreshore in recent years has been dire. In practice the Foreshore Trust is part of the Council.

 

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Posted 13:12 Wednesday, Jun 1, 2022 In: Home Ground

14 Comments

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  1. Catherine Taylor

    Putting a two storey building on the existing crazy golf site will alter the look and aspect of the seafront. The works to build this proposed facility will degrade the foreshore and environs. The proposed building has no sustainable credentials.
    The Climate Emergency Declaration made by HBC is being ignored in the approval of this building.
    Let’s start a counter protest to evidence opposition to this development.

    Comment by Catherine Taylor — Monday, Jun 6, 2022 @ 20:43

  2. Christopher Hurrell

    It is shocking that the Foreshore Trust(FT) failed to comment on a development on their land which impacts on the foreshore. One of the FT trustees (Cabinet member Judy Rogers) claimed recently on Facebook that the trustees considered the development and decided (incorrectly) that there were no planning reasons to oppose it so they did not comment.

    The FT trustees should have assessed the development against the objectives of the Foreshore Trust and then posted this assessment against the planning application. Their failure to do so is a dereliction of their duty as trustees to comply with the objectives of the trust.

    The FT is the owner of the land. The FT trustee claims that the terms of the lease do not allow the FT to determine what is built on their land. If true this is a scandal. What sort of leasehold agreement prevents the land owner from exercising the right to control what is built on their property? Is this the reason that the FT appears powerless to prevent the closure of the footpath on the amusement park?

    The role of the Trust is to protect the foreshore in the interests of the people of Hastings. The Trustees are not independent as they are all HBC Cabinet members and there is a conflict of interest between Cabinet , HBC and the objectives of the Foreshore Trust.

    Comment by Christopher Hurrell — Monday, Jun 6, 2022 @ 13:36

  3. Bev Francis

    What an absolute tragedy for the seafront and a death nail for the crazy golf. The attraction of playing crazy golf is that it’s outside in the open air .
    To put a two story building on the seafront is awful , what town planners allowed this?
    The beauty of Hastings sea front is the sea ,why block the view?
    The people who run the crazy golf have made a very bad move indeed, I for one shall never set foot inside a building to play crazy golf and especially not one that blights the view of the seafront.
    I play crazy at least five times a year with family friends and visitors and I hope like me, many people will boycott playing there now. Looks like we are too late to stop this madness but I’m hoping a campaign against this gathers momentum, someone must have time to run a campaign!
    What was this council thinking ? This is too sad for the town.

    Comment by Bev Francis — Sunday, Jun 5, 2022 @ 10:05

  4. Mr Blair

    I would be interested to know how the Hastings model of its ‘Foreshore Trust’ & HBC charity committee compares with other seaside towns. Is this unique to Hastings or are other towns locked into exact same set up – if so are there better & worse comparisons? If it is unique to Hastings what alternative models are there in the UK that function well & could help to inspire positive change here?

    Comment by Mr Blair — Saturday, Jun 4, 2022 @ 11:30

  5. Philip Oakley

    The Foreshore Trust should be run, according to its constitution, independently from the Council, but 3 Labour Councillors run it and clearly take instructions from above. This was proved beyond doubt when the Trust refused to even discuss the possibility of purchasing the Pier when it went into administration.
    Likewise having no comment to make on the ridiculous Marina development plan.
    They meet 4 times a year but the Chair of the Trustees is paid over £6500 and the “protector “ substantially more for doing very little it seems.
    The Foreshore Trust could be doing exciting and positive things along the seafront as it has a £1.3m income. Instead it’s an impossible organisation to contact and have any dialogue with. It spends it’s money on poor ideas generated by Council Officers such as the unused beach huts, failed bike hire and the horrendous white rock fountain (£175k contributed).
    An independent board of Trustees would be far better.

    Comment by Philip Oakley — Friday, Jun 3, 2022 @ 09:58

  6. Mark Curry

    I am a Crazy Golf enthusiast – so I read with interest the initial proposals from the Crazy Golf people you can read about them here https://www.hastingsadventuregolf.com/newdevelopment.html

    They want to move one of the 3 courses indoors so that Pirate Golf is no long weather dependent (and would be available 364 days a year) – and provide an indoor cafe (and also external seating) with sea views – developing their successful business.

    I am pleased that planning permission has been granted for this development.

    Coming back to the main thrust of the article – the Foreshore Trust is a charity and it needs to be run as such – not as an extension of the Borough Council – who at times appear to use the FT as mitigating cuts forced upon them elsewhere – HBC no long provide ANY grants for any events or activities and over the pas few years the FT has provided small event grants .

    121 days late with accounts is not a good look for any charity (and the FT is spending £112,000 a year on governance – I would suggest they are not getting value for money!)

    The FT’s income is substantial – over £1.3 million a year – and its charitable objects specify for the benefit of the people of Hastings and St Leonards NOT the borough council established by the reorganisation of local government in 1974 (and for any HBC lurkers – the people of this town and the council are not one and the same thing!)

    Comment by Mark Curry — Thursday, Jun 2, 2022 @ 18:37

  7. Heather Grief

    Well said Bernard. I notice how this has been passed very quickly, by the current Labour-composed planning committee, before any Green or Conservative view could be included.
    If there are 3 parties with members on the council, there should be one of each type as trustees of the Foreshore Trust. And they should be joined by 3 residents known to have made a positive contribution to the town and voted for by the residents, preferably with some kind of heritage background, to balance the politicians.
    The only official person to come out of this with honour is the Conservation Officer who objected to the building.
    One thought: over 68 metres / 75 yards is the length of the Bayeux Tapestry. But I’d rather keep the nice greenery of the current crazy golf set-up.

    Comment by Heather Grief — Thursday, Jun 2, 2022 @ 16:09

  8. Jill Fricker

    Horrible idea. I think this just encapsulates why so many of us abandoned Labour and voted Green at the local elections.

    Comment by Jill Fricker — Thursday, Jun 2, 2022 @ 13:15

  9. Alan Privett

    Indoor crazy golf? Is there a precedent for it? It’s an open-air activity. The very idea of a part-two storey building 75 yards long on that site is shocking, as it will block the visual link between town and sea, of which the existing open golf site is a significant aspect.Intrusive and unnecessary. What is the justification for this proposal?

    Comment by Alan Privett — Thursday, Jun 2, 2022 @ 09:35

  10. Russell Claughton

    Why replace a unique entertainment, the sort many other seaside towns would be delighted to have? I live at the other end of town now, but whenever I’m on that part of the seafront the crazy golf seems quite busy, and it certainly adds to the free visual attraction of the area, especially for children. The dull and uninspiring building planned to replace it will only be an attraction to those who pay to enter it – surely a Labour-dominated Council, and The Foreshore Trust especially, should not be subscribing to the widespread trope that profit should take precedence over quality of life and every other consideration? Is it too late to raise some sort of opposition to this decision based on the Foreshore Trust’s dereliction of responsibility, even at this late stage?

    Comment by Russell Claughton — Thursday, Jun 2, 2022 @ 07:25

  11. Bernard McGinley

    UPDATE:

    As largely expected, the Planning Committee on 1 June approved the crazy golf building proposal. Its length and bulk were not considered, nor its impact, nor the Foreshore Trust’s mute perspective.

    The discussion was from 2:01 to 2:23 in the official recording. The case officer stated [2:12] said the proposed development was ‘the same length as what’s there: there’s nothing we can do about that’, badly confusing the open site with a part-two-storey building.

    Rapidly there followed an unfeasibility about applications ‘considered on their own merits’. Who knew?

    As for the Foreshore Trust (‘a statutory consultee’), its silence was mentioned, but its role was disregarded. Why it had nothing to say about its own foreshore remains a mystery, but its closeness to HBC seems clearer than ever. Its notionally separate existence is pointless.

    Comment by Bernard McGinley — Thursday, Jun 2, 2022 @ 00:09

  12. Maxine Simmonds

    Besides the eyesore of the proposed development, there should be discussion on the loss of that last little bit of green. This is a terrible idea and will overshadow the many pedestrians who promenade in that area – many of whom can’t access more challenging walks.

    Comment by Maxine Simmonds — Wednesday, Jun 1, 2022 @ 23:35

  13. J. Owen

    Part of the attraction of the current Crazy Golf site is battling the elements as you make your way around the course ! By building over the course(s) you not only loose that fun element but also create an unnecessary eyesore on the sea front. This plan by the owners could well backfire and reduce the future attendance numbers… personally I think it’s a daft idea.

    Comment by J. Owen — Wednesday, Jun 1, 2022 @ 22:56

  14. Adrian O. Stanford

    After a number of years running this facility, why now do they feel that it requires placing into a building? Is it because they are not making enough money?
    Would the other facilities be taken over and moved into the proposed building?
    As a resident of the Old Town, it would be detrimental to the overall environment. Also I would not be happy losing the coastal foot/cycle path.
    It will also block a large part of the coastal view.
    Has anyone completed an economic breakdown of benefits, and of financial loss to the Old Town?

    Comment by Adrian O. Stanford — Wednesday, Jun 1, 2022 @ 16:39

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