Hastings & St. Leonards on-line community newspaper
1-3 Chapel Park Rd, photo R Hull

1-3 Chapel Park Rd, photo R Hull

Threats to Southwater Valley

Property developers want to demolish a pair of semi‑detached Victorian villas overlooking Warrior Square Station and build a multi-storey block of flats instead, with “parking under”, writes Bernard McGinley.

The site is at numbers 1 & 3 Chapel Park Road (and land to the rear), at the junction of Ellenslea Road, on the south-east corner of that crossroads. Instead of the existing semi-detached villas, 29 flats are proposed: 19 x  2-bedroom flats of approximately 67-69 square metres and 10 x 1 bed flats of 51 square metres.

Proposed development, from application

Proposed development, from application

The proposals bear no relationship – none – to the existing townscape. In a characteristic burst of pot v. kettle, the Design & Access Statement says

To the east up Ellenslea Road is Norfolk House a somewhat tired housing block from the 70’s.

But this bland and intrusive proposed new block of flats already looks tired, a 1960s ‘international’ throwback — whereas Norfolk House is low-rise and unassuming.

Proposed development, from application

Proposed development, from application

Under Reference HS/OA/13/00577 the plans can be viewed online at: Comments can be left online.

The case officer is Sam Batchelor, who can be contacted on 01424 451066 for an appointment to see the papers or discuss the case. The documents can also be seen on computer at the Information Centre, Town Hall.

Planning procedures often seem intended to confuse. This is an Outline Planning Application to renew the former Outline Permission under reference HS/OA/08/00121, which was granted in April 2009. Following that approval, an application for approval of reserved matters (ref HS/DS/09/00133) was approved at Appeal in June 2010.

View of site from London Rd

View of site, circled top left, from London Rd, photo Zelly Restorick

The view from London Road – across Warrior Square Station and the Southwater Valley – is one of the old fashioned and spacious glories of St Leonards. This block of flats will ruin the Victorian skyline, and the sky around the Station. Also, the Alpha Café beside the Station is under threat, its single storey to be replaced with another block that will destroy any sense of Southwater Valley from the Station or St Johns Road or Kings Road. The Italianate station itself, the work of William Tress, c.1851-2, would be very badly overshadowed.

The proposed demolition of the Chapel Park Road villas, and the scale and massing of the proposed development in this prominent location, would be seriously detrimental to the character and distinctiveness of this historic area, making it less attractive to residents and visitors. This would have a negative impact on the local economy and the regeneration of a very densely populated and deprived part of St Leonards.

If residents of the Borough have a view about whether or how this benefits Southwater, Gensing or central St Leonards, they should write soon to: HBC Planning Department, Aquila House, Breeds Place, Hastings TN34 3UY, or email

Objections should be on the basis of planning matters. These could include matters such as:- the increase in traffic, and the threat to road safety; or the impact on neighbouring buildings

For instance, the Baptist Church diagonally opposite the proposed development is Grade 2 listed and so its setting is threatened.

Additionally the proposals appear to be in breach of the Council’s Development Management Plan Objective 7:- “Making best use of the Seafront and promoting tourism”.

People visit St Leonards & Hastings because it isn’t like the rest of the country — it’s different. But these flats would erode that difference. There is damage to Policy E4 on Tourism and Visitors therefore, and other ringing declarations of the Hastings Local Plan (2013).

Policy DM3, on General Amenity, endorses appropriate “use of the scale, form, height, mass and density of any building or buildings” and the need to reduce or avoid “any adverse impact on the amenity (privacy, overshadowing, loss of daylight) of the neighbouring properties)”.

Additionally, Policy DM1, on Design principles, is apparently compromised:

a)  Protecting and enhancing local character and showing appreciation of the surrounding neighbourhood’s historic context, street patterns, plot layouts, & boundaries, block sizes & scale, height massing and materials …

d)  An assessment of visual impact, including the height, scale, and form of development that should be appropriate to the location, especially given the complex topography of the Borough and the need, in some instances, to consider the visual effect from key viewpoints.

The Council’s Plan (p153, Par 6.262.) says about 1 & 3 Chapel Park Road that:-

… proposals for this site will need to take account of its likely impact upon the Kings Road Conservation Area and in accordance with policy EN1 of the Planning Strategy and with HN1 of this plan.

Policy HN1 sounds highminded, in theory. Among much else it states:

. . . the Council will give consideration to the impact of the development on the setting of heritage assets, including the  impact of more distant views, and from across the other sides of the valleys. The Council encourages proposals that sustain or enhance the setting of heritage assets.

On previous form however, none of this is likely to prevent a recommendation from HBC planning officers to Councillors to allow the proposals. That is why public comment is important.

The elegant old buildings directly opposite the Baptist Church, 7– 11 Chapel Park Road, are also at risk.

The Planning Committee is likely to consider this scheme on Wednesday 11 September or Wednesday 9 October.

Appreciate the sky and space around Warrior Square Station while you still can.

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Posted 19:42 Wednesday, Aug 21, 2013 In: Home Ground


Please read our comment guidelines before posting on HOT

  1. Elliott Cooper

    Do the planners of HBC live in a rival seaside resort by any chance? This sort of thing does unfortunately lead me to wonder what else, if anything, the said developers might have offered here, aside from the block of flats. Deeply depressing and questionable on so many levels.

    Comment by Elliott Cooper — Friday, Sep 13, 2013 @ 17:29

  2. Alison Cooper

    It is very hard to keep positive but we must all object to this….if HBC planning can decide on what’s to keep and what’s to ditch- then what next?
    HBC cannot seem to undestand that you can have both ‘making money’ AND ‘enjoying the beauty of our surroundings’ One does not negate the other- that’s why millions flock to visit Rome or Florence……

    Comment by Alison Cooper — Wednesday, Sep 11, 2013 @ 14:21

  3. Patricia stephenson

    What does one have to do to halt this desecration of Hastings? We all know that despite very valid objections from many residents, their protestations are ignored. It is heart breaking and soul destroying to attend planning committee meetings knowing full well that we will leave with objections waived aside and another piece of our town scape is doomed. We are currently trying to save Robsack meadow from development. This little oasis is the habitat to a plethora of protected wildlife,important flora and rare insects but it is the council’s intention to “relocate” all wildlife from this site which sits directly between the ancient woodlands and local nature reserve of Robsack Wood and Churchwood. The wildlife traverse the site between these woods… is their home – such wickedness for monetary gain is difficult to comprehend and makes a mockery of all these Policies contained within the Local Plan.

    Comment by Patricia stephenson — Friday, Aug 23, 2013 @ 17:50

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