Hastings & St. Leonards on-line community newspaper

Marline Valley rally against North Queensway proposals

Around 50 people, including representatives of the Green and Conservative parties, turned up for Seachangewatch’s protest meeting against Sea Change Sussex’s plans to build speculative industrial units on its North Queensway site. Bernard McGinley was among them.

Heavy rain eased in time for a good turnout in the soggy circumstances. The protest was against not-for-profit Sea Change Sussex’s application ref HS/FA/21/00327:

Business park development to deliver business units consisting of 4010m² of light industrial/ manufacturing units (use classes E/B2), 490m² of bespoke space for a local employer, and the renewal of planning permissions HS/FA/16/00330 & HS/FA/18/00761 for car showrooms (1215 sqm), as well as associated uses including plant, pedestrian and vehicular circulation, car parking, cycle parking, hard and soft landscaping and utilities. | Queensway North, Queensway, St Leonards-on-sea

The turnout of about 50 people heard a range of speakers, including Green councillor Julia Hilton, Tory councillor Mike Edwards, Andrea Needham, co-ordinator of Seachangewatch, Dr Judy Clark and Richard Watson of Energise Sussex Coast.  

Cllr Julia Hilton (photo: Bernard McGinley).

The development site is cheek-by-jowl with the Marline Wood Local Nature Reserve, owned by Hastings Borough Council (HBC) but managed by Sussex Wildlife Trust. 

Its diverse and rare wildlife has a remarkable area of ancient gill woodland, sandstone outcrops, lowland meadow, and three woods with many species of deciduous trees. This is what is under threat, for a very uncertain return.

The importance of biodiversity as an issue was emphasised — rather than (say) energy policy. The severe threat to biodiversity was pointed out, and how the developer’s offer of ‘monitoring’ was not a mitigation measure. As a Site of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI), Marline Wood is a site of national importance, with its own microclimate. The ancient woodland is also jeopardised as a habitat, its soil undisturbed for centuries. The requirement for a 15-metre buffer zone was ignored in the Sea Change proposals, like other requirements. 

There was also criticism of Sea Change’s explanation of their proposals, lacking technical references and being out-of-date, both technically and regarding government policy.

In the light of its unfulfilled jobs projections and other aims Sea Change’s  assurances come with a lack of credibility, for North Queensway as well as other projects.

Marline Wood (photo: Bernard McGinley).

The application’s many breaches of local and national policy were mentioned. Natural England have made numerous formal criticisms. Aspects of funding and administration and accountability were also criticised.

Conservative Cllr Mike Edwards, whose Ashdown ward includes Queensway North, said that though HBC had a director on the board of Sea Change, for years there had been no reports on what was happening, despite the clear need for scrutiny of the use of public money. He added pointedly that ‘Sea Change are no friends of ours’.    

The case has drawn some 200 objections, some drawing on the acute observations of Seachangewatch. It is not known when the case will go before the Planning Committee.   

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Posted 20:49 Wednesday, Aug 11, 2021 In: Home Ground


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  1. Jenny Taylor

    I’m pretty sure that if the Tories are turning up to your demonstration, you’re doing something wrong 🙁

    Comment by Jenny Taylor — Wednesday, Aug 18, 2021 @ 09:02

  2. Ian Smith

    The sustainability statement prepared by Method Consulting for Seachange is delinquent in many areas, both by error and omission:
    – the statement is targeted at promoting sustainable and green design but nowhere mentions embodied emissions in the construction of the development;
    – it refers to the Renewable Heat Incentive in connection with solar thermal heating. At the date of statement, the RHI was already mandated to close in two months’ time for non-domestic users;
    – it makes emission performance representations about heat pumps that are at least ten years out of date and, as such, materially misleading;
    – it presents costs for photovoltaic installations which are typically twice what installations on commercial roofs are costing today (I have just commissioned one for £650/kW versus their range of £1000 – £1500);
    – it omits to address district heating as an option at all yet, for greenfield developments, this would be an obvious , even necessary, candidate for inclusion in such a statement,
    – there is not a single reference to any source material for their numeric representations. Had they done this, it might have obviated some of the errors referred to above;
    – there is no economic analysis presented to support any of their conclusions that, with the exception of making the buildings ‘PV ready’, no renewable energy technologies should be included;
    – no adoption of gas boilers can be sustainable – both from the emissions perspective and from the fact that it is a finite resource.

    It is not acceptable, in the context of the climate emergency, that the argument can be used that, because the energy demands of the building users is not known, no sustainable energy provision can be included.

    The superficiality of this document points to the exercise as being treated as a box ticking chore.

    Comment by Ian Smith — Saturday, Aug 14, 2021 @ 09:42

  3. Cameron Foye

    Difficult site for decent B1 and I believe allocated for much needed housing

    Comment by Cameron Foye — Thursday, Aug 12, 2021 @ 10:24

  4. DAR

    Cameron F. What about the old power station site in Ore Valley?

    Comment by DAR — Thursday, Aug 12, 2021 @ 10:11

  5. Colin Foy

    There is still no link to Queensway from the Ridge, as this was promised. Proposed houses on Ashdown House and the top of Harrow Lane have been given the green light. Why are we waiting>

    Comment by Colin Foy — Thursday, Aug 12, 2021 @ 06:25

  6. Cameron Foye

    So where should the much needed B1 industrial space which Hastings desperately needs for businesses to grow and provide jobs go?

    Comment by Cameron Foye — Thursday, Aug 12, 2021 @ 04:55

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