Controversial St Leonards development withdrawn

West St Leonards Community Centre. SUS-141127-125043001
West St Leonards Community Centre. SUS-141127-125043001

The housing association behind a controversial development in St Leonards has confirmed it has withdrawn its plans.

AmicusHorizon wanted to develop land at the former West St Leonards Primary School but the scheme faced opposition from more than 600 residents.

Residents protested over plans to demolish West St Leonards Community Centre in November, 2014. SUS-141127-124958001

Residents protested over plans to demolish West St Leonards Community Centre in November, 2014. SUS-141127-124958001

A planning application for land off Filsham Road, St Leonards, for 60 extra care units, a new community hub, 42 homes and ten private-sale retirement houses was submitted to Hastings Borough Council early in 2015.

In January this year, residents questioned whether it was still going ahead and today AmicusHorizon confirmed it had decided not to proceed.

“There were strong local objections to building homes on a site where South Saxon Wetlands is based,” said a spokesman.

“AmicusHorizon always wanted to deliver a scheme that was sensitive to its surroundings and spent additional money producing a strategy to design out and mitigate the risk of flooding.

“This led to a sharp rise in building costs.

“Added to this, the pressures on housing associations through government budget cuts, including the year-on-year one per cent reduction to our rents, meant the scheme was no longer financially viable.

“A lack of additional funding from other bodies to make up the shortfall also left the proposal untenable.”

Neill Tickle, development director (counties) at AmicusHorizon, said: “We’re extremely disappointed as our plans would have created a state of the art Extra Care scheme with a thriving community hub.

“But much has changed since we first unveiled our plans for the land and it’s clear the scheme is no longer financially viable.

“We remain keen to continue working with our partners at Hastings Borough Council and East Sussex County Council to explore future options at this and other housing sites.”

An East Sussex County Council spokesman said: “We are disappointed the scheme, which would have created 60 much-needed extra care apartments, will not go ahead, but appreciate the pressures AmicusHorizon faces.

“We have supported a total of seven extra care schemes across East Sussex, including two provided by AmicusHorizon, and remain committed to working with housing providers to develop suitable accommodation for those residents with specific needs to live as independent a life as possible.”

The move is likely to be a relief to residents who earlier this year demanded answers on what was happening at the site.

The South Saxons Action Group has said it would like to see the land used for a nature reserve with a new community and visitor centre and a sports complex so residents could make use of the green space.

AmicusHorizon’s plans were labelled ‘atrocious’ back in November, 2014, when they were first revealed, with residents particularly angry at the loss of the community centre.

Concerns over flooding, the level of traffic on both Bexhill Road and Filsham Road, and the impact on the South Saxon Wetlands were also raised.

Call for answers on status of major redevelopment bid in St Leonards

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