THE council congratulated its planning department on July 24 after being nominated for two awards - one from the Planning Portal as an accredited ‘Smarter Planning Champion’, and one from the Planning Advisory Service. Apparently this is for its efficiencies and improvements.
Last spring the council shifted to a new planning website, that has download speeds that resemble those of the 1980s. How ‘streamlining’ is that as a service to democracy?
Before that, the planning department closed its counter in Aquila House in order to operate behind closed doors. It has made dire recommendation after dire recommendation for as long as can be remembered.
How many buildings of quality have been built here since (say) 1945? One hand is more than enough.
In July I watched the planning committee do the bidding of council officers and vote (Cllr Scott excepted) to ruin one of the best views of the Old Town (at the beautiful bend of Ashburnham Road and Godwin Road).
Before that there was the Archery Ground, Undercliff, Dane Road, Hawthorn Road, Fern Road, Stone Court, the Lower Bohemia utilities, The Ridge, West Street, Priory Street (that’s seriously going to damage views of the castle), and on and on.
The idea that new build is in itself regeneration is patently false. Look at the high slab by Warrior Square station, much of it empty. Now the Alpha Café site at the bottom of St John’s Road is under threat, replacing one storey with many, and helping turn our borough into Croydon-on-Sea by destroying what is exceptional about it.
The notion that the planning department is deserving of any award is frankly laughable. Cllr Chowney’s praise of ‘a good, all round, planning department’ bears no relation to the actuality of St Leonards and Hastings.