Can’t outsiders have say on planning matters?

ARE people living outside the borough not allowed to have an opinion about the low standards of town planning in Hastings and St Leonards? Cllr Godfrey Daniel (Observer, letters, January 10) appears to think so.

The procedure that allows a 1966 planning application to be dubiously revived decades later is what Mr Heritage was complaining about in the first place.

Did Cllr Daniel in his long tenure as chair of Hastings Borough Council’s (HBC) planning committee and of the East Sussex Planning Committee ever make representations to have the system improved?

Many here are dismayed at the quality of planning locally. Last July 17, Cllr Daniel stated to the planning committee: “People have the right to develop their land: that’s basically what it says in the planning literature.”

This strange summary of a century of planning legislation helped cause a much‑loved view from Ashburnham Road to be destroyed - and all the fine words of local planning policies counted for nothing.

With such attitudes it’s no wonder that Hastings and St Leonards has been so relentlessly damaged while Cllr Daniel has been in charge of local planning - as when he voted for the original Archery Ground proposals (in the summer of 2012). The Planning Inspector later rejected the developers’ appeal and upheld the Committee’s unusual, rebellious decision.

The Undercliff development, later abandoned because of landslip, was notoriously ‘good enough for Hastings’.

The recent approval for a block of bog-standard flats to replace the Victorian villas at 1 and 3 Chapel Park Road ignored the known history of subsidence at the site, and the requirements of Policy DG21 (Development on Unstable Land).

Other cases abound, and the planning committee’s scope for democratic decision-making appears to be ever more constrained.

Modern Hastings has low standards of design - and low administrative standards to go with them. For instance, the electronic copies of planning committee agendas lack maps of planning sites that hard copies have.

This gives the unfortunate impression that information is being withheld. Similarly the HBC website information on Conservation Areas is thin, and provides no maps, for the public to take an interest in, for the promotion of civic pride.

There is a growing perception that the planning process locally represents the developers to the electorate - but not so much vice-versa.

BERNARD MCGINLEY

Magdalen Road

St Leonards