Calls for college site to be pulled down after fire

Hastings College old site, Archery Road
Hastings College old site, Archery Road

Arsonists torched a derelict building at the old Hastings College site sparking more calls for it to be demolished.

Six fire engines were dispatched to the site in Archery Road, St Leonards, at 4.47pm on Monday (October 27) after reports were made of smoke coming from the building.

Crews confirmed there was a fire on the fifth floor of a tower block building. The aerial ladder platform was used to providing lighting.

Eight breathing apparatus were used along with main jets to put the fire out. The cause of the fire was a deliberate act of arson and Sussex Police is now investigating.

Councillor Phil Scott, labour group leader on the East Sussex Combined Fire Authority, said: “Yet another fire has been set allegedly this time by a number of girls.

“The fire was on the fifth floor so in itself a challenge for the fire service. Fortunately on this occasion no one was hurt.

“However it is high time that either a permanent site security operation was set up to deter intruders or that a demolition order is sought by Hastings Borough Council (HBC) to ensure that the building is demolished in good time and poses no future threat.

“I will be pursuing that with HBC officers to determine the process and who would initiate such a move.

“My concerns as a Fire Authority member are for the safety of anyone that should enter the building either to seek shelter or seek mischief and set fires, ultimately it is our firefighters who have to risk their lives to deal with any fire incidents that we are most concerned about.”

Richard Heritage, who has long campaigned for the site’s demolition, said: “We need an immediate Section 215 Enforcement Order for the developer to demolish the main building, clean the site up, begin work on the Grade II listed Burton terrace and to ensure there is some 24/7 organised security to the site.

“This allows the council to take the developer to court if they fail to comply and also permits HBC to recover costs for any work it has to do should the developer fail to act on the order.”