Design takes us to drearier times

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THE new pier, already being rebuilt, should mean a better future for St Leonards.

But visitors arriving in the hope of finding something new or something different will find instead the sort of architectural that they thought they had left behind in the dreariest wastes of Greater London.

Two Victorian villas overlooking Warrior Square Station are instead threatened by proposals for a block of 29 flats (expected to be considered at Planning Committee on November 6).

These would do huge damage to the Victorian setting of Warrior Square station. Amazingly, Network Rail has written to the council of its concerns about land instability, and the clear breach of Policy DG21 (Policy on Unstable Land) of the Hastings Local Plan, that states that ‘planning permission will only be granted subject to convincing supporting evidence from the applicant that actual/ potential instability can be overcome’.

The railway administrators went to on to state: “Network Rail would accept no liability for any resultant incident involving the [railway] tunnel if any proposed development was granted permission without investigation prior to consent. The seriousness of this should not be disregarded . . .”

No 1 Chapel Park Road was the subject of extensive remedial work earlier this century, following subsidence. The planning application’s design and access statement does not mention this, merely ignores the issue.

This is troubling. Ancient views across the Hastings valleys are recognised and protected except where – as recently in Ashburnham Road – there’s a new building to go up, and then Policies DG7 and DG8 mean nothing.

The relentless high-mindedness of official pronouncements about heritage and the built environment is automatically worrying. The Hastings Development Management Plan (November 2012) states that Policy EN1 has ‘a presumption in favour of conservation of these assets and their setting. The policies of the Development Management Plan support policy EN1 of the Planning Strategy . . .’

Does this mean that the setting of the King’s Road Conservation Area is safe? Certainly not.

The single-storey café in front of Warrior Square Station is also under threat, as is the local quality of life.

Ocean House, permanently under-occupied, and looming over the station, is a reminder of what foolishness the council is capable of. Stop these mistakes, now.

BERNARD MCGINLEY

Magdalen Road,

St Leonards