Joy from campaigners as Rocklands plan thrown out

JUBILANT campaigners celebrated on Wednesday (June 18) after an application by owners of a caravan park was unanimously thrown out.

Rocklands Private Caravan Park in Rocklands Lane had applied for retrospective planning permission for alterations to an existing building by Ecclesbourne Glen.

It wanted to make changes to the building’s ground floor, add additional windows and altered window positions, as well as extend the balcony. The original building itself was granted planning permission in 2012.

Hundreds of angry residents wrote to the council in protest ahead of this week’s meeting saying the natural beauty of the glen had been destroyed because of development in the area.

At Wednesday’s planning meeting, Andrew Blackman, chairman of the Friends of Hastings Country Park, said: “This building should never have been granted planning permission and revocation of the original consent should be the council’s ultimate goal. The proposed changes represent a significant increase in the scale and impact. The additional balcony space proposed is 29.5 sq m, an 87 per cent increase on the permitted area. I urge the council to demonstrate its commitment to the unique landscape of the country park and show its support for the thousands of residents who have been so deeply upset by what has happened in Ecclesbourne Glen.”

Ward councillor, John Hodges, said: “The building has been built in an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB) and has defiled what is the green jewel in the crown of this town’s tourism offer and has cast a visual blight on the enjoyment of those who take great pleasure in the simple rustic joys of what this wonderful country park can offer.”

Cllr Hodges branded the property an ‘offensive carbuncle’ and also called for the original planning permission to be revoked.

Cllr Michael Wincott said: “It was a disastrous decision to grant permission in the first place. A lack of enforcement action on various issues is deeply regrettable and it has become a total pig’s ear in my opinion. We have failed to retain the trust of the public and although we do not have the power of this committee to order the tearing down of this building, we will look into seeing whether the original permission can be revoked so let’s take the first stage in putting this right.” In supporting Cllr Wincott’s stance, Cllr Phil Scott said: “The building looks awful and quite frankly I despair when we see buildings going up in the wrong place.”

Cos Polito, speaking on behalf of Rocklands’ owners, said: “The amendments are minor in nature and the applicant is willing to undertake additional planting on the site. The applicant is surprised that this application has attracted significant objection from local residents. The holiday let follows advice from the tourism inspector visiting last year advising of an upgrade in holiday accommodation. Visitors come year after year to stay at Rocklands, spend money in Hastings and contribute to the local economy.”