Hastings & St. Leonards on-line community newspaper
Virginia Vilela of the West Marina residents' group at the old bathing pool site where a development of 152 dwellings is proposed.

Virginia Vilela of the West Marina residents’ group at the old bathing pool site where a development of 152 dwellings is proposed.

Residents slam “secret plans” for  bathing pool site

Local residents have slammed the council for preparing “secret” plans to build a large housing estate on the old bathing pool site in West Marina. As well as mounting a petition opposing the plans, they have called a public meeting for Wednesday 9
 January. Nick Terdre reports. Photos by Russell Jacobs.

Hastings Borough Council has commissioned a proposal for a 152-house development on the former bathing pool site in West Marina from property companies County Gate and Sunley, Virginia Vilela of the West Marina Group of local residents told HOT. It is understood the plan also includes commercial units, an artists’ village and a glamping – luxury camping – site. A Freedom of Information request has been submitted for the sketch plans, which along with other details have not been revealed to the public.

Council leader Peter Chowney denied that the council had been acting secretively. “We’ve been talking to the potential developers to see if there’s a scheme worth pursuing,” he told HOT. “It looks like we might have one now.”

The response to a previous FoI request from West Marina residents indicated that the council has so far spent at least £105,000 on consultants’ reports for possible housing projects on the site, which is listed as available for development in the council’s local plan. An earlier scheme prepared by Carter Jonas, which proposed 120 housing units, was discussed at a public meeting held at the Royal Victoria Hotel two years ago.

Those plans were “overwhelmingly rejected”, according to the West Marina Group, of which Vilela is de facto chair. “Seaside Road and other local residents simply don’t believe that so many houses and other developments can be successfully built here and are outraged at being kept in the dark,” they say. The group “is pushing under Freedom of Information to see details of the proposal on which the Cabinet based the decision to proceed”.


An e-petition set up by the group on the HBC website claims that an “economic residential development of the site will be prevented by the ground conditions, including the remains of the former Lido, the age and position of underground services, the presence of [Southern Water] overspill tanks, and the constraints and costs of flood risk prevention”.

In addition to calling on the council not to proceed with its proposal, it requests that it “actively and fully engages with the local community and other existing and potential recreational users of the site to develop an agreed plan for its future use”.

“We’re opposed to the density of the development and angry that the council has not kept us informed as they said they would,” Ms Vilela told HOT.

She points out that there are various drawbacks to a large-scale development. The site is on the flood plain of the Combe Haven river which flows into the sea just to the west. The flood rating for the area was recently raised. Because of the flood risk, people would not be allowed to occupy the ground floor.

It is understood that a car parking allocation of one vehicle per dwelling would be made, which, given the incidence of families with more than one car, suggests there would be a significant increase in the number of vehicles looking for parking spaces in the area. Nothing is known of the council’s plans for dealing with increased traffic levels or the the considerable upgrading of local services which the influx of several hundred new residents would necessitate.

Neighbourhood plan

As an alternative the residents’ group has proposed the preparation of a neighbourhood plan which would allow the council and local residents to cooperate on a holistic approach to development of the area, but has been waiting since August for a reply.

The group has called a public meeting at 7pm on Wednesday 9 January at West St Leonards Community Centre at which they hope to learn more about the proposed development while impressing on the council their dismay at the secretive way it has advanced its plans while leaving the local community in the dark.

Cllr Chowney was invited but has told the group he is unable to come. However, he says he is willing to meet with them on another occasion. The group hopes that the councillors for West St Leonards, Matthew Beaver and Karl Beaney, will be present.

MP Amber Rudd has also been contacted; she replied that though she is not able to intervene in the planning process, she agreed that the council should be more transparent in its dealings with the local community.


Links to the e-petition and West Marina Group’s website and Facebook page, where the petition can also be viewed and signed.

Old baths-600

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Posted 11:45 Sunday, Jan 6, 2019 In: Home Ground


Please read our comment guidelines before posting on HOT

  1. Ms.Doubtfire

    The e-petition presented by the West Marina group will be heard at the Cabinet meeting on 4 March at 6pm at Muriel Matters House. The Agenda for this meeting will be published on the councils website on 22 February 2019. It is important that as many as possible attend this meeting. If we dont show our support these proposals will simply be rushed through and we cannot allow this.

    Comment by Ms.Doubtfire — Tuesday, Feb 5, 2019 @ 10:12

  2. Bolshie

    You people should know by now, surely, that is how this council operates in many facets of its role – doing things in secret.
    Spending the money here on consultants and don’t they love spending money on them.
    Or how they bought £22million of property without a murmur about their intentions to do that. We only find out “after” it has all been done and dusted.
    How about the White Rock consultancy to redevelop this area. That must have been a lot, lot more than this one. Was any of the public consulted ???

    Comment by Bolshie — Wednesday, Jan 16, 2019 @ 17:34

  3. David Stevenson

    I agree ALison. We need to invest more in renewable energy because fossil fuels won’t last for ever. How about putting a solar farm on this site?

    Comment by David Stevenson — Saturday, Jan 12, 2019 @ 12:50

  4. Ms.Doubtfire

    Hard to believe that Alison would really write such a piece of nonsense. The Country Park is one of the most heralded and important Country Parks in our land. To say that she would welcome Solar farms anywhere and everywhere is surely quite ridiculous. Yes solar farms provide much needed engergy provided they are placed in suitable locations. And the country park certainly is not a suitable location.

    Comment by Ms.Doubtfire — Friday, Jan 11, 2019 @ 19:14

  5. ALison

    Mrs Doubtfire- I think solar farms in any area is a fantastic, brave and NECESSARY idea….we need to stop thinking ‘me’ and how will it look….it’s too bloody bad how it will look- we are in an environmental CRISIS!

    Comment by ALison — Thursday, Jan 10, 2019 @ 08:24

  6. Ms.Doubtfire

    What a very strange comment by JB Knight. Chowney may be chuffed but there there is a strong sense that people are not prepared to put up with his tactics for much longer. Even some firm labour supporters are muttering about his antics. Here we have someone who thinks borrowing vast sums of money to finance inappropriate and risky projects is perfectly fine even though those really in need here do not see any benefit from this
    His latest little soiree into dodgy investments has to be the solar farm proposals. Who is advising this man? Has our council lost the plot entirely? A very worrying time for us all here. Lets hope that the meeting tonight gives Chowney and his cohorts the message that we are not prepared to be bullied. Enough is enough.

    Comment by Ms.Doubtfire — Wednesday, Jan 9, 2019 @ 10:12


    Protests, Petitions, Public Meetings. You are stuffed.

    When it comes to People vs Power, Property and Land You are a lightweight feather who can be ignored or crushed.

    Peter has done it again and Chowney’s CHUFFED!


    Comment by J B KNIGHT — Tuesday, Jan 8, 2019 @ 18:36

  8. David Stevenson

    I cannot see how 152 houses, plus commercial units, an artists’ village, a glamping site and parking space for 152 cars can be fitted on to this site. Are we talking about “Wendy Houses”? Even 152 flats would require a building taller than those in the surrounding area. How can the Council constantly winge about not having enough money and having to make staff redundant and still find £105,000 to spend on consultants? Serious question, Mr Chowney. What do the consultants do that the Council staff cannot? Virginia Vilela has provided numerous reasons why this scheme should be rejected. Will the Council see sense and scrap this proposal? I am not holding my breath.

    Comment by David Stevenson — Monday, Jan 7, 2019 @ 20:32

  9. Hugh Mulvey

    When the old Bathing pool was demolished there was a requirement that what ever was to replace it had to be for recreational use ,there was even talk of digging up the Amsterdam and building a visitors center , the observer even ran an article asking for suggestions of which i contributed.
    This designation was changed at some point and all kept very quiet
    so as to cash in on a premium building plot. I am not against a developement of somesorts and as one of the local kitesurfers this will mean we`ll no dout have to move on, but if the council were more transparant everyone would have a bit more faith and respect for them.

    Comment by Hugh Mulvey — Monday, Jan 7, 2019 @ 17:11

  10. Mr.Hippolyte Grigg

    This is another example of Councils running rough-shod over the community for which the Council should be ashamed. Talking to developers is not talking to us in the community Mr Chowney in the first instance. This is another example of the council spending local taxes in desperation before proper consultation.
    I can think of many areas along the Bexhill link for such a development or down Queensway for that matter rather squeeze buildings in front of seaside properties as shown in the photograph.
    These areas are crying out for regeneration as was outlined in the original planning approval way back when plans were submitted.

    Comment by Mr.Hippolyte Grigg — Monday, Jan 7, 2019 @ 09:48

  11. Ms.Doubtfire

    How can Councillor Peter Chowney deny that any issues surrounding this very controversail scheme have been carried out in secret? How many residents are aware of the details of what he has been discussing with developers?
    If it wasn’t for the West Marina group few would be aware of HBC’s plans for this site. But hey whats new here? So very often planning applications get approved before anyone has any idea that a planning application has been submitted. There needs to be more transparency within Hastings council – whatever happened to democracy? The West Marina group needs support – otherwise these unacceptable plans will be rubber stamped.
    It is so important to attend this meeting on 9 January – we must make our voices heard.

    Comment by Ms.Doubtfire — Monday, Jan 7, 2019 @ 09:13

  12. Laurence Keeley

    if anything is built it should be as on my website,not market housing,but better to find somewhere the residents want.
    How about the grove School site for a community development,please visit my website,see Affordable housing,Care,& World War 11 &Village Life,the elections one is not for you this year.
    Laurence Keeley.

    Comment by Laurence Keeley — Sunday, Jan 6, 2019 @ 21:25

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