Archery Ground message being heard

CONGRATULATIONS on your excellent coverage of the Archery Ground debate.

At last the message is getting through: that Burtons’ St Leonards deserves better than the humdrum housing development currently on offer.

Urgent reading of Stephen Gray’s excellent report and response is needed now. (www.savethearcheryground.org).

Readers need to be warned against three specious arguments. One: that what’s proposed is better than what’s there now. Two: that high density doesn’t matter (e.g. Hastings Old Town and Mercatoria). Three: that the local community was consulted.

As for the first: should we allow a 1960s desecration to be replaced by a 21st Century banality?

The original Regency new town of the late 1820s expressed the latest of modern ideas and was created by two giants of British building, landscape and architectural design. Why not the equivalent today?

Regarding density, we can’t design by numbers alone. Considerations such as harmony with the surroundings are fundamental.

High density projects in low-density areas can completely change their character and can only be achieved successfully by inspired design (as with the Accordia development in Cambridge).

Do we really want a huddled housing development of mostly small flats for the Archery Ground?

As for the cynical suggestion that the local community was consulted, all efforts made in 2007 to share knowledge and suggest an architectural competition were ignored.

Finally, in 2009, the developers called a meeting with the Burtons’ St Leonards Society and Mount Residents Association with fait accompli plans.

Instant understanding of architectural plans requires skill and the studying of boxes of papers requires time.

Time and study revealed horrors such as the removal of trees from the steep northern boundary to reveal below a row of back gardens, the ghettoization of unfortunate social tenants in the least attractive block and the ‘landscaped square’ in the middle actually a landscaped parking space.

An architectural competition could bring recognition and renown to St Leonards, already fully appreciated by architectural historians, and prestigious amenity and arts organization - the Georgian Group has recently featured an article on Burtons’ St Leonards in its internationally circulated magazine.

We should all hold our heads in shame if we allow this scheme to go through.

ELIZABETH NATHANIELS

Upper Maze Hill

St Leonards