Hastings car park plan is better than building on public parks


From: Heather Grief, Tower Road West, St Leonards-on-Sea

I sympathise with Nick Perry’s annoyance at Hastings Borough Council (HBC) choosing to ignore the Local Development Plan, and build a hotel for Premier Inns to rent on the Cornwallis Car Park, after it had been designated for social housing with green and play space. There are, however, far worse breaches of the Development Plan, namely the intention to build blocks of flats/houses all over much of Summerfields and White Rock Gardens, when they were designated for playing fields (e.g. Horntye Park) and as parks for leisure / amenity use.

The worst breach of all is the extremely short-sighted decision that the Bathing Pool site should have 150+ homes built on it by a developer, who will buy the whole site, so HBC will effectively lose control of it, when the Development Plan had earmarked it for ‘mixed use’, including leisure. What space will be left for leisure use? I had suggested to the Inspector that the Development Plan should have the whole site for leisure use only (unsuccessfully), and any council with its eye on its tourist economy would have seen this site as the valuable asset that it could be; even as a green open space it is an attraction. Why they think anyone will want to go to the west end of the seafront to look at blocks of flats I can’t imagine. West St. Leonards has little enough in the way of amenities, and lots of other land is earmarked for housing there.

In my lifetime, the population of Hastings has nearly doubled, but the same can’t be said of its public parks. It is far better to build on car parks than on public parks, gardens and playing fields, and HBC should only be building the kind of housing for which there is a pressing need locally, namely modest family homes and social housing. They could be borrowing money from central government to buy land currently ‘land-banked’ by developers, on which to build social housing.