Planning ‘debacle’ cost Hastings council almost £92K

The Rocklands holiday home'. Photo by Surface2Air Media
The Rocklands holiday home'. Photo by Surface2Air Media

The council has spent almost £92,000 on costs surrounding a controversial development at a caravan park, it has been revealed.

Campaigners from Save Ecclesbourne Glen (SEG) submitted a Freedom of Information (FOI) request to the authority to find out how much money had been used dealing with the issue of development at Rocklands Private Caravan Park.

SEG believes the building of a holiday let, dubbed a ‘bunker’ by the group, has led to landslips and destruction of the natural environment in the area.

Chris Hurrell, on behalf of SEG, said a total of £91,714 had been spent by the council on consultancy and legal advice fees, reports and studies and repairs.

He said: “This figure does not reflect the true costs of the Rocklands debacle. These figures are just the figures for external payments. Officer time spent on the affair has not been included.

“All this money spent because the council gave planning permission for the bunker against all local planning policies, failed to monitor developments at Rocklands, ignored public concerns about the developments prior to the landslip and failed to inspect the caravan site for more than 20 years. The bunker remains and the glen remains devastated.”

Rocklands appealed against the council’s enforcement notice to destroy the building overlooking Ecclesbourne Glen almost two years ago.

In March 2015 it submitted a planning application asking for the retention of the holiday let, which was refused. In June 2014 the council unanimously threw out Rocklands’ retrospective planning application to make alterations to the controversial building. The original building itself was granted planning permission in 2012.

But a planning inspector ruled in June this year the controversial holiday home could stay.

Kevin Boorman, council spokesman, said: “There is little to add to the very extensive comments we have given in the past. We would love to reopen the footpaths that are currently closed in Ecclesbourne Glen, but the advice we have had is that the land is still unstable, and liable to further slip. The affected footpaths will therefore remain closed for the time being, but of course the glen is still accessible by using other paths.”

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