Campaigners tell council to leave Robsack Meadow alone

Campaigners for the protection of Robsack Wood Meadow, St Leonards.

Campaigners for the protection of Robsack Wood Meadow, St Leonards.

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CAMPAIGNERS have sent out a defiant “Hands off Robsack Meadow” message to the council as it considers a 200 strong petition to save the site from development.

The petition calls on the authority to make the meadow part of a surrounding nature reserve to stop any houses being built in the future.

But a report to the Cabinet which meets on Monday (Nov 28) recommends the petition is not supported.

Councillors are being asked to consider the site as part of an overall planning policy under the Local Development Framework.

The meadow is part of the Hastings Local Plan which was drawn up in 2004 and is an area identified as a site to build houses since 1986.

The report states early public consultation will take place in the Spring and will give councillors the opportunity to look at the future of the site along with many others in the borough.

It also states that “given the acute pressures on land for housing the council will need to consider Robsack as part of a strategic approach to land use. This approach needs to consider the housing, employment, recreational and environmental needs of the Borough now and in the future.”

Campaigners may still get a chance to voice their concerns to an independent inspector at a public hearing which is currently timetabled for 2013.

In the report the lead member for Planning and Regeneration, councillor Peter Chowney, explained his view on how the future of the meadow should be decided.

He states: “The current allocations are part of the old plan so the Council will be consulting on new site allocations as part of the LDF process.

“In my view the fairest way to carry out all the LDF site consultation is to identify all the sites in the Borough which could possibly be used for housing and ask people what they think.

“We would then formalise the allocation of housing land taking into account the responses we received in consultation.”

Petition organiser Paddy Stephenson, who is also a member of the Hastings Planning Heritage and Watchdog, said: “There is no other site in the borough which would suffer such destruction of ancient woodland and wildlife. Robsack is a special case and this is what I intend to highlight at the meeting.

“With the new LDF plan now in progress, one wonders how this will ever produce a fair and accurate assessment of the sites up for development.

“Why on earth should the council squeeze in more flats in an area that is home to beautiful wildlife and create another unwanted blot on the landscape in this town.”