While there are a plethora of issues relating to this site and what has been going on there over the years, the spotlight is on the delegated planning permission for what is considered as a ‘blot on the landscape’ signed off by Mr Crawford; Hastings Borough Council’s chief planning officer.
Focusing on just this one aspect within a plethora of issues with Rocklands researched information in the planning file for this building reveals a memo written by Mr Crawford in August 2012 following a site meeting with the owners of the site and their architect. Part of the content of the memo states how he liked the design. Remarking how ‘the accommodation is very spacious and doesn’t accommodate may people – looks like a house rather than a holiday let’.
In navigating the applicant to get this passed he advised them on the following: “Add another bedroom and possibly indicate a sofa bed in the lounge and disabled access rooms –it’s a high quality let – not a permanent home…..Put forward a business case supported with info from grading people and Kevin Boorman (who was quoted in the delegated report) about the demand for this type of accommodation and their past business experience ….Provide the information to show it would not be prominent from the country park….Go through reasons for refusal one by one and address each in detail.”
Many who have had sight of this memo believe it went way too far to help these applicants and raises just how much the planning department will go to a developer, particularly for a site adjacent to a sensitive area such as the Country Park.
Now Amber Rudd MP has stepped into the breach on this fiasco stating there is a need for ‘openess and transparency that has been lacking before’. What a large number of people want Ms Rudd is a public inquiry into this planning department with a remit beyond this Rocklands issue.