Campaigners voice concerns to Government over 190 St Leonards homes bid

Campaigners opposing proposals for a major housing development in St Leonards have written to the Government’s housing agency to express their concerns.

Wednesday, 1st September 2021, 1:05 pm

Hastings Borough Council was awarded up to £6.9m two years ago to develop council-owned land off Bexhill Road in Bulverhythe, St Leonards.

The funding from Homes England was part of the Local Authority Accelerated Construction programme, designed to help local authorities prepare land for the development of new homes.

At the time the council said the funding would help deliver around 190 new homes on Bulverhythe Recreation Ground, of which 40 per cent would be made available as affordable housing.

L-R: Peter Clarke (Chairman Friends of Combe Valley), William Ackroyd (Trustee & Treasurer Friends of Combe Valley) and Chris Dadswell (Vice Chair of Friends of Combe Valley). Pictured at Bulverhythe recreation ground. SUS-210109-122357001

Pete Clarke, chairman of the Bulverhythe Protectors, has now written to Homes England to voice the campaign group’s opposition.

He said: “The field is a major recreation resource for both Hastings and Bexhill in an area of under provision, it is part of a countryside park jointly sponsored by Hastings, Rother and East Sussex, it is next to large scale controlled and historically uncontrolled waste dumps, it is part of an open and highly visible landscape and it is an area of high archaeological potential.

“Hastings was awarded funds of £2.225m by Homes England (then Homes & Communities Agency) for flood alleviation on the site. The then partners of Hastings withdrew from the project but a further proposal was put forward which resulted in Hastings being awarded £6.9m to enable Hastings to develop proposals to build about 190 homes on council-owned land at Bulverhythe.

“Two years down the line more than £1.5m of a possible £7m from Homes England has already been committed by Hastings and no planning permission has been approved and hence no houses have been built, in spite of a deadline to spend all the grant by March 2021.”

Organisations including the Environment Agency, Sport England, Sussex Wildlife Trust, Sussex County Archaeologist and Sussex Ornithological Society have also made detailed objections to the proposals.

Almost 140 people have objected to the plans on the council’s planning portal.

In his letter to Homes England, Mr Clarke added: “We recognise the need for housing for homeless people, in particular with those relying on Universal Credit, including those in badly paid jobs but the proposed development is not appropriate and alternative sites are available which we hope Homes England can support financially.”

A Homes England spokesman said: “As a local planning matter, all matters relating to this issue will be determined by Hastings Borough Council in the normal way.”