Residents waiting 28 years for ‘beautiful’ Hastings hall’s restoration

Portland Steps residents and Liberal Democrat campaigner Nick Perry outside St Marys Railway Mission Hall SUS-161027-110356001
Portland Steps residents and Liberal Democrat campaigner Nick Perry outside St Marys Railway Mission Hall SUS-161027-110356001
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Residents are sick and tired of waiting for a ‘once-beautiful’ hall in Hastings to be refurbished after 28 years of neglect.

St Mary’s Railway Mission Hall on Portland Steps has been left to rot and used as a dump despite three ‘notices to improve’ which have not been enforced, residents say.

Neighbour Judy Russell was irritated by Hastings Borough Council’s Grotbuster scheme doing-up other properties when the hall is in desperate need of repair.

“The once-beautiful hall continues to deteriorate and the surrounding ground remains a draw for mattresses, trolleys, sofas, abandoned cars and general litter,” she said.

“In response to repeated requests for action, we are told: ‘Grotbusting can be a very slow process – up to two years to get a result’.

“A somewhat galling comment to those of us who have waited 15 years for any ‘grotbusting’ to take place in the case of St Mary’s Hall.”

Portland Steps residents and Liberal Democrat campaigner Nick Perry outside St Marys Railway Mission Hall SUS-161027-110409001

Portland Steps residents and Liberal Democrat campaigner Nick Perry outside St Marys Railway Mission Hall SUS-161027-110409001

The 124-year-old building has a vibrant history having entertained 150 Canadian soldiers on Christmas Day in 1918, and was used by various groups for social events until it was bought and closed in the early 1990s.

Residents have been calling on the council to clean it up ever since and despite three Section 215 notices, the owners’ promises of refurbishment have not materialised.

“We feel let totally let down by the council, and puzzled at their apparent indifference,” Ms Russell said.

Liberal Democrat campaigner Nick Perry believes the hall’s years of neglect ranks as one of the longest-running problems in Hastings’ planning history.

“Surely now is the time for the council to make amends for past failings, and get tough with developers who prove to be poor partners in the process of preserving good relations in our neighbourhoods, as well as the town’s heritage,” he said.

The council has been contacted for comment.

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