51-home extension granted to builders

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DEVELOPERS have been given three more years to start work on a “controversial and risky” project to build 51 homes in the Ore Valley.

Plans for the 46 flats and five houses at the site near Church Street were first submitted in 2007 but turned down because the applicants refused to install a lift. However the developers won an appeal and were given three years to start building but with that deadline about to expire, they applied for an extension to the deadline which was considered by the Hastings Borough Council (HBC) planning committee last week.

The council received 33 objection letters and four petitions against granting the extension but HBC officer Roy Crawford said it could only be turned down if there had been “material changes in circumstances” since 2008.

Objector Aubrey Ingleton raised several concerns over what he called a “controversial and risky” application. He said the ground was not stable enough for so many homes and that the proposed access road would be too steep. He added: “This will be the slums of the future built on the edge of a precipice. This is one of the most horrendous sites I have even seen anyone trying to build on.”

He was backed up by wildlife campaigner Melvyn Johnson who called the wildlife surveys presented to the council “flawed, contradictory, woefully inadequate and inaccurate.”

He said bats and slow worms were among the species at risk and said: “I truly believe this valley has become incredibly highly populated by badgers in the past three years.”

Tressell ward representative Councillor Jay Kramer also spoke against the extension, questioning whether new disability and discrimantion laws made the lack of lift illegal. She said: “I think it would be a terribly retrograde step to agree a development that denies access to disabled people.”

Simon Franks, speaking on behalf of the developers, said these were old arguments and nothing had changed in the past three years.

Cllr Matthew J Lock agreed he could see “no evidence of substantive change” and Cllr Godfrey Daniel added: “This is not the best application in the world but there is no reason to turn it down.”