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Handover of Green Party petition on the harbour proposal to mayor Nigel Sinden, right, by Julia Hilton, centre, and Amelia Womack, the Greens' deputy leader.

Handover of Green Party petition on the harbour proposal to mayor Nigel Sinden, right, by Julia Hilton, centre, and Amelia Womack, the Greens’ deputy leader.

Lessons from withdrawal of harbour proposal

The harbour proposal in Rock-a-Nore has been withdrawn – but different parties have different versions of how that happened, how Hastings Borough Council handled the proposal and whether it has a robust enough policy to distinguish between future proposals which would be detrimental to the town and those which would benefit it. All these issues came to the surface at the Cabinet meeting last Monday. Nick Terdre reports.

The huge marina complex and hundreds of new houses built on a platform in the sea which comprised the harbour proposal put forward by Hastings Harbour Quarter would have irrevocably changed the appearance and character of Rock-a-Nore. The developer’s decision to withdraw it was welcomed by Julia Hilton, spokesperson for Hastings Green Party, who addressed the meeting of the HBC Cabinet, reminding it of the 1,100 signatures her party had collected for a petition opposing the proposal.

“I have watched with interest the ‘spin’ the council has been putting on this announcement [of withdrawal], claiming that the development was ‘rejected’ due to the [council’s] clear red lines,” she said.

“But the decision taken at the Cabinet meeting last September [2017] was unanimous in allowing this destructive development to take the next step towards trying to seek public money for the company to do feasibility studies. It is a relief that the relevant government departments had enough sense to realise how destructive this proposal could be and refused any public subsidy being given to the developers.”

Simon Hubbard, HBC’s director of Operational Services, disputed that the government had declined to provide funds for a feasibility study. “There has not been refusal, there simply has not been a conclusion to those discussions,” he told the meeting. “The developers have chosen, I think, to go away on that basis and to think again.”

Council leader Peter Chowney also commented on the red lines issue, saying, “We did lay down those red lines and we made it very clear, I mean the developer has not said that it was the red lines that caused them to withdraw the scheme, they said that they couldn’t get the funding for it, but I think that the red lines…would have made it more expensive to do but that is not the reason that they gave specifically.

“All those red lines were about simply if the scheme came forward, this is what we would want it to comply with.”

He also disagreed with Hilton’s assertion that “…this proposal is absolutely the wrong plan in the wrong place and no amount of requirements would have made it acceptable…the site is completely inappropriate for such a massive development.”

“If developers come to you with a £0.5 billion idea and say, ‘We want to explore this with you,’ it becomes quite hard to say, ‘Go away, we don’t want to talk about it at all.’ You have got to give them some space,” Chowney said.

According to Hubbard, the same approach should be adopted by the Cabinet for future such proposals. “…the recommendation in the report [to the Cabinet] is that what was put in place in September 2017 is [the] appropriate mechanism should any future scheme come forward,” he said. The recommendation was approved.

Hilton also called on the council to respond to popular feelings on development proposals. “In the hundreds of conversations we have had with local people on this proposal, it has been clear that many people do not feel they have a voice or any say over development plans and I would urge the council to find more creative and open ways to involve local people in co-creating a vision for our town…

“As a start, a clear vision and framework should be put in place for the precious and unique heritage and landscape assets of our town.”

She invited all present to attend a meeting hosted by the Hastings and St Leonards Society to discuss whether the town should seek Unesco World Heritage status. “Gaining Unesco heritage status is a long and complicated process but it involves the kind of vision for this town that we can all be proud of,” she said.

This meeting will be held at 6pm on Friday 19 October in the University of Brighton’s Priory Building in Priory Street.

This article draws on an unofficial transcript of the Cabinet meeting provided by a member of the public.


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Posted 22:00 Wednesday, Oct 3, 2018 In: Home Ground


Please read our comment guidelines before posting on HOT

  1. Ms.Doubtfire

    It is difficult to keep tabs on Councillor Pete’s activities in this town – a recent FOI reveals that this council, has to date, borrowed over £40m from the Public Works Loan Board.

    Like children let loose in the provebial sweetie shop, Councillor Pete and his cronies do not know when to stop.

    What they should be doing at this very moment in time is investigating the role of the Foreshore Trust. Trustees who appear not to know what their responsibilites are. Read planning application HS/FA/17/01056 – an application to extend the amusement park facilities and the possible closure of public right of ways.
    The chair of this Trust Councillor Sue Beaney has supported this application! Not in her official capacity as Chair of this Trust but as an individual. Apparently the Foreshore Trust has no comment to make!
    Deferred for now but not refused. Everyone who values the importance of this historic town needs to read this outrageous planning application and make their protest before it is too late.

    Comment by Ms.Doubtfire — Monday, Oct 15, 2018 @ 12:51

  2. Marzan

    Looking at the wider picture I think we are all in agreement that housing and development are needed in this country we just don’t want it in our back yard so I think we can safely say that I and all above are the purist Tories of all. Thank you HOT for your support in this conservative campaign.

    Comment by Marzan — Saturday, Oct 13, 2018 @ 01:14

  3. S docherty

    Due to global destruction just hope that the relevant people will put this site forward as world UNESCO heritage status ….. to stop the non stop developing
    I think Brighton and Eastbourne the way they have done their sites are ugly
    Restaurants revolting there just cheap food conning more
    Told to plant more trees
    The amount of paved driveways! Land being eaten up everywhere
    We need the Green Party more than ever

    Comment by S docherty — Wednesday, Oct 10, 2018 @ 08:59

  4. siobhan Moore

    whether it be shutting down the public toilets in town, or as Zelly points out a price on beauty and historical significance. Peter Chowney is as out of touch as he always is, a big ego that doesnt allow him to be grounded and understand the reality and implications of the position he holds which is for the people and for the good of all, the bigger picture.

    Comment by siobhan Moore — Tuesday, Oct 9, 2018 @ 10:18

  5. Chris Lewcock

    So Peter if somebody wandered in off the street saying they could build you a fancy palace in your garden you would immediately agree to spend lots of your money to commission design and other consultancy work from them just on the off chance that the idea might be feasible? Surely – and only if you first thought it had any grain of sense – you’d ask them to come up with some basic assessment of feasibility, costs etc and tell you what they would get out of it?

    You appear to have asked for none of that from the proposers of the Harbour scheme but instead committed HBC Officers’ time and resources to chasing somebody else’s rainbow. You also appeared to be ready to support other public bodies committing taxpayers’ time and money in the same whimsical venture.

    Sometimes it does take courage to just say no.

    Comment by Chris Lewcock — Monday, Oct 8, 2018 @ 14:46

  6. David Stevenson

    Thank you, Zelly, for expressing my feelings exactly but far more eloquently than I ever could. Peter Chowney’s comments are yet another illustration of the shallowness and lack of imagination of most of today’s politicians, found mainly in the Conservative and Labour parties. Will they ever realise that money on its own is NOT the answer? In fact, it is the cause of many, if not most, of the problems in the world and Peter Chowney is part of that problem. Hopefully, at the next local election, his Ward constituents will tell him where to go.

    Comment by David Stevenson — Monday, Oct 8, 2018 @ 12:53

  7. colin foy

    It does not matter how long it takes to join UNESCO, apply now. If it takes your lifetime you have something wonderful to pass onto your future generations. Life is short, do not be railroaded into a smaller Marina in the same place. Have you written to Sir David Attenborough, and if not do so, and tell him that you have applied to join UNESCO.
    Colin and Lynda Foy

    Comment by colin foy — Monday, Oct 8, 2018 @ 06:07

  8. Mr Hippolyte Grigg

    Is Cllr chowney still a director of Love Hastings Ltd? If so he needs to heed the views of this town.

    Comment by Mr Hippolyte Grigg — Sunday, Oct 7, 2018 @ 22:07

  9. ALison

    You’re a star Zelly- well said. x

    Comment by ALison — Sunday, Oct 7, 2018 @ 21:41

  10. DAR

    Well said, Zelly: money can’t buy everyone! Chowney and his cronies should listen carefully to the groundswell of opinion (from all political persuasions) which see the harbour proposal as impracticable and unsafe, as well as aesthetic nonsense: it’s environmental vandalism on a grand scale.

    Comment by DAR — Sunday, Oct 7, 2018 @ 12:49

  11. Ms.Doubtfire

    Well spoken Zelly but as Bernard McGinley commented in the earlier article ‘the Marina is undead’. Of course there is money to be made even from initial dialogue – no consultant is going to give one second of their time for free!!
    In my opinion this council is completely detached from local opinion and this is why the Hastings Democratic Alliance must be resurrected. The only way forward to achieve the voice the people of this town deserve. So come on – who is going to get this petition started? I will be more than happy to put my signature to this.

    Comment by Ms.Doubtfire — Thursday, Oct 4, 2018 @ 10:52

  12. Zelly Restorick

    “If developers come to you with a £0.5 billion idea and say, ‘We want to explore this with you,’ it becomes quite hard to say, ‘Go away, we don’t want to talk about it at all.’ You have got to give them some space,” Chowney said.

    I feel with all my heart that however much money the town was offered, if the deal involved the destruction of Rock A Nore, one of the most beautiful places in Hastings, I – and many others in the town – would have no difficulty in saying ‘Go away’.

    My heart sinks when I read this… and to have the awareness that this proposal has only gone away in its ‘current’ form – and may raise its ugly, narcissistic, greedy head again.

    I believe that all those involved in such a plan, should it return, will meet with the powerful resistance of many people locally, who simply would not allow a few money-inspired individuals to destroy Rock A Nore in order to provide pleasure for a financially privileged minority.

    I have heard – from different sources – that some individuals benefit financially even from the period of consideration, from a consultation, from the processes involved in local decision-making.

    “Only when the last tree has died
    And the last river been poisoned 

    And the last fish been caught 

    Will we realise we cannot eat money
    A Cree Indian proverb

    Zelly Restorick, one of the many staunch, determined defenders of Rock A Nore and natural spaces, who won’t walk away, meekly acquiescing, being subservient, obedient and submissive in the face of so called ‘authority’.

    Comment by Zelly Restorick — Thursday, Oct 4, 2018 @ 08:24

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