New plans submitted for old college site

New plans have been submitted for the redevelopment of the former Hastings College of Arts and Technology site.

The site in Archery Road, St Leonards has been bought by new owners Gemselect Ltd and Orbit Homes from previous site owners Gladedale who are now known as Avant Homes.

Gemselect has submitted revised plans to the borough council to build 121 homes, 76 being affordable homes. It has also applied for the variation of the original site conditions to a scheme granted in 2013 following a public inquiry after the council refused planning permission in 2012. The variations include the removal of a pedestrian footbridge linking flats to Highlands Gardens which campaign group Save The Archery Ground (STAG) is opposed to. A statement from the architect for the scheme Marcus Beale stated: “There are a number of amendments we are proposing including level access pathways to make the development more accessible in Archery Crescent, additional pitched roofs instead of flat roofs, reducing the height of one of the buildings, and providing railings and hedges over low walls instead of high blank walls in some places. These amendments do not threaten the overall character or appearance of the scheme which was granted consent. Most are aesthetic and practical improvements. The pedestrian bridge raised concerns about safety, maintenance and insurance. Advice from Sussex Police was that the bridge would reduce community safety and might create a focal gathering point with potential for noise and anti-social behaviour. Its removal does not threaten the scheme’s character and appearance. There are several other accessible pedestrian routes linking the development outwards onto Archery Road.”

Trish Evans, spokeswoman for STAG, said: “Gladedale got planning consent after a five-year battle by promising the community a high-quality, conservation-led development that would add value to the whole of St Leonards. The footbridge is just one of many key features the new owners are seeking to ditch. If they succeed we believe it will affect not only the character and appearance of the conservation area but also the life quality of the people who will live there. The new owners want to treble the level of social housing. STAG believes this changed business module is behind the ‘improvements’ cited by Gemselect and Orbit Homes, consequently lowering standards for social housing.” Maggie McCann, development director, for Orbit Homes, confirmed: “We have again partnered with Gemselect to deliver 76 high quality, affordable homes on the former Hastings College site.”