Council invited to outline Grotbusters to Government

A COUNCIL official was invited by the Government to give a talk outlining how Hastings is combating the scourge of derelict buildings.

Marcus Berrisford, senior planning enforcement officer for Hastings Borough Council, went to London last week to give a presentation to the Department for Communities and Local Government about the Grotbusters campaign.

Since the initiative started, the council has advised other local authorities and the Government on how to use relevant legal powers successfully.

Andrew Palmer, Hastings Borough Council’s head of housing and planning, said: “It’s really excellent news that our senior officer was invited to demonstrate and explain how we have achieved such outstanding results with the Grotbusters campaign.

“The Grotbusters team has improved 630 premises in the town so far and Marcus was able to use before and after slides to illustrate the talk.

“Congratulations must go to the whole team who continue to work so hard to achieve these great results which has now resulted in Hastings being considered champions in this field.”

Those present at the event and listening in remotely at the presentation were told that eyesore, derelict buildings tend to give rise to all sorts of negative perceptions of a town.

They heard how enforcement action used in Hastings can be a key tool in bringing about regeneration.

Recommendations were given on how to adopt similar schemes elsewhere and advice given on case law and pitfalls to be avoided.

Last month councillors and officers were out in force to see how the Grotbusters campaign was progressing across the town.

Hastings Borough Council’s grotbusters team, along with council leader Jeremy Birch and councillor Peter Chowney, walked along the seafront to see which properties were still not up to scratch.

Last year was a busy one for the scheme, which started in 2000, yielding improvements to more than 50 buildings across town, including a number of prominent seafront premises in Eversfield Place and Marina, as well as properties elsewhere including the cinema in Queen’s Road.

This year in the Old Town 20 property owners have been approached so far and in Central St Leonards, more than 30.