There is a high level of empty offices in town

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HAVING read Cllr Chowney’s letter in last week’s Observer, I feel compelled to write to you again about the plan for the future of Hastings.

In the Hastings Planning Strategy report much is made of the Employment Strategy and Land Review (ESLR), prepared jointly by Hastings Borough Council and Rother District Council, August 2011.

In Business Needs, Key findings, section 5.24 of the document, the number of businesses recorded looking for alternative or additional accommodation falls from 25 per cent in 2007 to 14 per cent in 2008 and 10 per cent in 2010.

Of those businesses seeking alternative or additional accommodation 41 per cent required office space, 82 per cent of them requiring this under 1,000sqft. Across industry sectors, manufacturing businesses were the most likely to be looking, construction and wholesale and retail the least likely.

The ESLR refers to an East Sussex Annual Business Survey, it finds that around 14 per cent of businesses in Hastings and Rother, and 15 per cent in Bexhill were ‘struggling’, with a further 22 per cent in Hastings, 20 per cent in Rother and 15 per cent in Bexhill reported as ‘vulnerable’.

Cllr Chowney says he’s based his plans on expert studies, he has not read them thoroughly or chooses to ignore the facts. There is absolutely no evidence available to suggest a requirement for huge areas of additional office space and shops in central Hastings.

Space in Lacuna Place, Havelock Road, is available from 3,221sqft to 22,601sqft and has not been let in five years. Thank goodness the skateboarders are making use of it, although I did see a large window has been broken. To say ‘there isn’t a high level of empty offices in the town’ is blatantly wrong. More hoardings are now up, where Havelock Mansions is being knocked down.

Insinuating that the work of the Planning Policy Team is just a plan is hocus-pocus. In years to come councillors will be saying that another hare-brained scheme concocted to enrich property speculators should proceed because it’s consistent with the local plan.

I was appalled to read letters in your pages referring to the condition of the sea and the very poor service given to visitors to the Information Centre.

They imply an end to Hastings as a tourist resort in favour of a dreamt up vision of a ‘thriving, high quality business location’. The whole thing is making me ill to think about it.

NICOLA WARING

Sedlescombe Road South

St Leonards