‘I’ve been led on many murky trails’

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I MOVED to my first time buyer’s flat two years ago having been told it was in the heart of a Conservation Area as it is right by the Convent of the Holy Child Jesus and its grounds which is described as the major element of the conservation area in the 2004 Hastings Local Plan.

In my innocence I wrote a sad letter to the Observer from my heart about how greedy and wrong the whole proposed convent development is.

Since then every spare moment of mine has been spent on uncovering all sorts of aspects of this case.

I have been led on many murky trails in many different directions digging into the clandestine archaeology of planning and developers, thereby unearthing many unsavoury layers. How can I not become cynical?

I’m certainly not implying that there are no good people of integrity in planning overall, but from my limited experience it is mostly the young ones who appear not to have been told the truth about what’s gone on during the pre-application phase when they become case officers.

Quite early on when I was talking to a conservation officer, he said to me, ‘You have to understand Mrs Jarvis, it’s not a perfect world.’

You can say that again. With the latest consultation on the Hastings Local Development Framework - the blueprint for planning in Hastings up to 2028 - upon us, we should all be scrutinising it if we want to avoid some very nasty surprises in the future - in the form of ugly and/or inappropriate developments about which the vast majority say, ‘How did that happen?’

The problem is that hardly anybody knows that these important consultations are even taking place due to very poor publicity.

Also the fact that there is no easily accessible permanent display throughout the consultation period and no paper forms for those without computer access to make their comments, is likely to result in even lower participation than there was for the previous consultation - when there were only 47 responses from individuals and organisations in the borough.

MAUREEN JARVIS

Magdalen Road

St Leonards