Uncertainty over future is lamentable

EARLIER this month I attended the performance of The Magic Flute at St Mary-in-the-Castle. I thought it would be good — but actually it was excellent.

The uncertainty over the future of this venue is lamentable, but par for the course. Cllr Chowney, (Letters, September 7) suggests that HBC has a tourist strategy, but where is it? Its own formal report (last June) on the Archery Ground proposals did not even mention it, which seems professionally careless.

As for office space, Ocean House in St Leonards has many empty floors, so why do we need more? And why replace the eyesore office-block facing Station Approach with a much bigger eyesore that obstructs views of the castle?

Similarly the convent proposals, indulged by the planners, month after month, year after year, could mean an ugly estate (large but with pinched rooms) facing the museum and art gallery in Bohemia Road. Art-loving visitors will call - probably once. The Oval and White Rock Gardens will be lesser attractions if this development is allowed.

The Jerwood should not be a substitute for other attractions. St Mary-in-the-Castle is a truly exceptional venue (like the quality of its offerings). If it is mothballed, the reasons to visit Hastings and St Leonards will be lessened. Yet the cost of keeping it open is minor.

As usual the spirit of place – that makes here exceptional – is being steadily eroded. ‘We need to talk it up’ says the councillor. Is that despite the achievements of the planning department?

Why would any outsider visit this borough?

Town Hall Left Hand, please meet Right Hand.

BERNARD MCGINLEY

Magdalen Road

St Leonards