Uncertain future for neglected properties

ACROSS Hastings and St Leonards there are hundreds of properties lying empty - some in drastic need of repair while others just need a lick of paint and a new front door.

There are many different reasons for their decline and neglect ranging from landslides, proposed road schemes, developers going bust or absentee landlords.

Here, we have catalogued some of the more serious cases, as the photographs show.

In the heart of St Leonards lies one of the most notorious sites of neglect in the town.

The former convent of the Hold Child Jesus in Magdalen Road was closed down in 1976.

It contains several grade two listed convent buildings including a chapel designed by the famous Victorian architect Edward Welby Pugin.

The site lay idle for more than 30 years until a planning application was made to build 190 houses and apartments.

Since then, the council has spent the last two years deliberating whether to grant the bid.

In 2004 planning permission was granted to build 16 apartments on land to the rear of Undercliff in St Leonards.

Building work started a year later but in 2007 a landslide at the rear of the site forced the project to be abandoned half way through.

More than four years later the site remains fenced off.

In 2002, work began to rebuild Winchester House off Highlands Avenue but 10 years on the property remains fenced off and empty.

The old Sussex newspaper building closed down in the 1980s after the company moved to new premises in Woods House, Telford Road.

The building has been empty and left to wrack and ruin for two decades.