Gardens have huge potential

IT’S good for the skate-boarders in town that there’ll be a second facility for them in White Rock Gardens (Extension to skatepark is given go-ahead,’ Observer, April 26). The accompanying photograph however was out of date: there’s no graffiti.

The Observer reports that the cost of the 2010 (Phase 1) rink was £215k — but at the time the BBC were saying it was £165k. For Phase 2, the council’s own published paperwork states that the budget is ‘£61k approx’. Really?

The same document (Design and Access Statement, paragraph 2.7) refers to Phase 3 — presumably to go alongside the others in a concrete barrier across the Gardens.

At the planning committee on April 24 none of the councillors inquired about this or anything else. One commented sceptically on lighting pollution as though it didn’t exist. A voice from the public gallery assured him it did.

In the Hastings Local Plan (2012), there is high talk of improving the quality and value of existing open spaces. Policy EN5 proclaims c) the protection and enhancement of existing open spaces that are of town wide significance (p67).

Dozens of spaces are then listed — but not White Rock Gardens. As Hastings Pier is about to be rebuilt as a major attraction, this seems odd.

The gardens are central in the borough, where Hastings and St Leonards meet, between two train stations, near the museum and art gallery, and the Bohemia Walled Garden. Signposted paths could lead visitors to the pier from the high green spaces beyond (and perhaps a café).

The gardens’ potential is huge for a would-be City of Culture. Instead there is neglect and graffiti. It follows that the future of White Rock Gardens including the Oval is under threat, just like the Convent beside it.

How can White Rock Gardens not be of town-wide significance?

How soon can this be put right?

BERNARD MCGINLEY

Magdalen Road

St Leonards