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Flooding early this year on the Bulverhythe rec lower tier. The Environment Agency currently rates the flood risk as too high for housing development.

Flooding early this year on the Bulverhythe rec lower tier. The Environment Agency currently rates the flood risk as too high for housing development.

HBC proposes Bulverhythe housing project while United mull Hollington move

While the proposed Combe Valley Sports Village on the Bulverhythe recreation ground has died a death, Hastings Borough Council is pushing ahead with plans for a large housing estate on the site. Meanwhile Hastings United is looking at developing a new football ground in Hollington. Nick Terdre reports.

Armed with the offer of a £6.9 million grant for flood mitigation measures, HBC committed at the Cabinet meeting this month to push ahead with plans to build a housing estate with some 170 homes on the lower tier of Bulverhythe recreation ground, to the north of Bexhill Road. Officers have been directed to start the search for a developer partner and possible funding sources.

The project is also on the agenda for the November meeting, for which the forward plan for Cabinet decisions lists a proposal for a “mixed tenure residential development” on the site.

As part of the same item, the plan also lists the “relocation of the Football Club and additional sporting facilities to Council owned land at Tile Kiln Lane.” Tile Kiln Lane runs into the Country Park, but HOT understands that this should read Tile Barn Lane, alongside the Tesco supermarket in Hollington, where there is a recreation ground.

Another possibility, according to a council source, is that the new ground would be sited on the old helipad site beside Queensway.

HUFC chairman David Nessling said he could not comment while discussions were under way with the council, but he hoped to make an announcement in the not too distant future.

Hastings United was one of the main backers of the Combe Valley Sports Village  which was proposed to be sited on Bulverhythe recreation ground, along with a housing estate. The project was left stranded, however, when Keepmoat, the developer partner, pulled out around the New Year.

Its departure was believed to be at least partly linked to the widespread flooding to which the site is subject.

New grant for flood mitigation

The money now offered for flood mitigation would come from Homes England’s Housing Infrastructure Fund, council leader Peter Chowney told HOT. It would replace the £2.25m offered by the fund for the same purpose in connection with the sports village project.

The flood mitigation measures paid for by the grant would have to be sufficient to lower the flood risk category assigned to the lower tier by the Environment Agency to a level which would allow housing development, Chowney told HOT – at present the rating is too high.

Homes England’s new offer, three times higher than the earlier one, appears to recognise that the cost of flood mitigation would be much higher than previously thought.

In his October ward report the council leader wrote that as the site is owned by the council, “…we would have control over any proposed housing scheme if we developed the site ourselves. We could also guarantee a decent number of social rented homes in the scheme.” Engineering studies would be needed to establish whether the grant was enough to cover the whole cost of flood mitigation, he added – it would only be forthcoming as part of a housing development.

Other advantages of a housing development on the site would be to reduce the flood designation for the whole area, adding value to existing houses, making them easier to sell and flood protection insurance easier to get, he wrote.

An application for a village green on the site might have derailed the HBC project but has now been turned down by East Sussex County Council.

Local residents’ objections

However, objections have  been raised by Bulverhythe Protectors, a local residents’ group formed to oppose the sports village proposal, which says that the council’s project faces the same series of problems. The chair, Peter Clarke, said he would be sceptical if the same flood mitigation scheme as put forward for the sports village were adopted – pumping water uphill to Pebsham, another flood site – as this would be difficult and costly.

“There are other sites around Hastings designated for housing which would be safer,” he told HOT.

Clarke himself lives in a house backing onto the recreation ground, the cellar of which is regularly flooded during rainy periods. Some residents are able to get house insurance and others not, he said.

Before it was turned into a recreation ground, the Bulverhythe site was used as a dump for high-grade hospital waste, Clarke said – there are still locals who remember seeing the yellow bags being deposited. The site also lies downhill from the current landfill site to the north, from which contaminated water leaks into the rivers which run either side of the site.

Air quality, which is presumably poor around a busy thoroughfare like Bexhill Road, would be likely to deteriorate further with the arrival of several hundred new residents’ vehicles, exacerbated by the jams likely to ensue from the higher levels of traffic; the recent installation of bus lanes has already has a detrimental effect on traffic flows along Bexhill Road, Clarke said.

Meanwhile at last week’s planning committee meeting an HBC application for outline planning permission for a 16-unit housing scheme on the south side of Bexhill Road, behind numbers 419-447, was refused by a majority vote, with one councillor quoting guidance in the National Planning Policy Framework advising against building on sites subject to flood risk.


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Posted 18:19 Wednesday, Oct 17, 2018 In: Home Ground


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  1. DAR

    More madness. Part of the argument put forward by HBC for building on the Harrow Lane Playing Fields was that there were other recreation grounds people could use such as….Bulverhythe!

    Comment by DAR — Monday, Oct 29, 2018 @ 18:37

  2. Bolshie

    More parks Mr Davis! What a great idea but this is HBC and that is not going to happen. It appears any land looking a bit green in the borough is more than likely to be built on. Look at the Harrow Lane playing fields – soon to be concrete and brick despite the Planning Inspector’s disdain about developing this site at the Local Plan hearings. And the past attempt to build on council owned Robsack Meadow in the area of an ancient woodland. Or the sites deemed unstable given planning permission such as Undercliff now abandoned or Fern Road which is still on going after about four years.
    As for this particular area just really long from Saxons where they wanted to concrete, I am told by an experienced construction man the site would have to be subject to Piling of around 40 feet down due to the geology of it. He claims the cost would not be profitable for any developer.

    Comment by Bolshie — Tuesday, Oct 23, 2018 @ 09:08

  3. Ms.Doubtfire

    Now this council has discovered the bottomless pit of the Public Works Loan Board there will be no stopping them…according to a recent FOI request they have to date received over £40m from this government loan scheme.
    Watch this space – a disaster in the making. And whilst we are here – what about some more details on the old Peugeot site – just how much is this council planning on spending to provide Aldi with a new supermarket? What else is in the pipeline?

    Comment by Ms.Doubtfire — Sunday, Oct 21, 2018 @ 15:23

  4. Chris Lewcock

    A couple of points. The Village Green application hasn’t been considered let alone turned down by the County Council but has been sent back due to a technicality raised by the Borough Council. The Borough Council is steaming ahead with a whole series of individual proposals for the west of the Borough. These have not been presented as an overall package to local residents – some sites weren’t even put forward in the most general terms through the recent Local Plan process. Even on an individual basis the sites have had little (usually no) public discussion before they’ve been unveiled with minimal information attached at Cabinet meetings. Setting aside the undemocratic nature of the process is it any wonder that without proper early scrutiny nonsensical ideas like the Old Town Harbour scheme got under way. Looks like the Bexhill Road playing fields will be another one!

    Comment by Chris Lewcock — Thursday, Oct 18, 2018 @ 15:02

  5. DAR

    This is yet another land grab of publicly-owned property by HBC, just like the Harrow Lane Playing Fields. And the stuff about flooding is a giveaway to how unsuitable this land is for housing development. Hastings/St.Leonards is full up with people and traffic – NO MORE! When is this council going to grow a spine and tell central government to eff off and stuff their targets?

    Comment by DAR — Thursday, Oct 18, 2018 @ 13:31

  6. Penny

    HBC seemed determined to build houses in water. Are webbed feet a prerequisite for council officers and elected representatives now?

    Comment by Penny — Thursday, Oct 18, 2018 @ 09:52

  7. ken davis

    Unbelievable, yet another absolutely bonkers planning decision to build on such low lying land when there is plenty of higher land available.
    What really needs to be done along Bexhill Road is for most of the existing buildings to be demolished progressively over a long period and the country park brought down to the sea. Hastings would then have country parks which adjoin the sea on both sides so creating a unique seaside town and a potential site for an inland marina.It is a clear absurdity, and not sustainable, to rely on electric pumping of water to reduce flood risk.

    Comment by ken davis — Thursday, Oct 18, 2018 @ 08:33

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