Five-storey Hastings development ‘would have towered over everything’

Astec House in Hastings
Astec House in Hastings

Controversial plans to demolish and replace a distinctive office building in Hastings have been unanimously refused by town planners.

An application to redevelop the Astec House building, which sits on the corner of Ponswood Road and Sedlescombe Road South, was refused by Hastings Borough Council’s planning committee last night (Wednesday October 10).

Developers had been seeking permission to demolish the existing building and replace it with a five-storey mixed use development made up of both office space and a group of 13 flats.

The application had been recommended for refusal due to concerns around the scale, mass, layout and design of the new building.

Before making a decision, committee members heard arguments in favour of the development from planning agent Mike Pickup and arguments against from lead petitioner Crawfurd Adamson, who was joined by a large group of the 43 neighbours who objected to the scheme.

Mr Pickup said: “The applicant however has been given no opportunity to put forward an amended proposal, as your officers consider the scheme is not able to be amended to overcome these concerns and must therefore be considered on its planning merits.

“The building would occupy a prominent former site and, contrary to other views, I consider it to be a landmark building with views marking the entrance to the Silverhill district centre to the north.

“It is the applicant’s case that the design marks the proposal as a new landmark building which would rejuvenate this corner plot and should be granted planning permission.”

He also argued the building would create a modern workspace and that the fifth storey – a penthouse apartment – would not be visible to most passers-by as it would be set back from the building.

However Mr Pickup faced criticism from some committee members over the designs put forward by developers.

SIZE IS JUST TOO BIG FOR AREA

Addressing Mr Pickup, Mike Turner (Lab. – Baird) said: “Very little thought has actually gone into the design to make any real effort to fit in with the rest of the properties. Don’t you think you could have done a little bit more in terms of making the aesthetics a little bit better?”

Mr Pickup’s arguments were also criticised by Matthew Beaver (Con. – West St Leonards), who said: “This building is much higher than the surrounding buildings. The size of that is just much to big for this area and for the corner plot.

“It was said that the resident’s views were being sought tonight as well as ours. Well to be honest with you, I think the scale of the amount of people here shows what the residents’ views are.

“I’m a little confounded as to why if there was a public meeting where the views were aired, then why wasn’t this taken on board so perhaps we wouldn’t need to be at this particular point.

“Everyone could have come to a mutually agreeable design where the residents were happy with it – or at least not unhappy with it – and you still could have created a landmark building of one to two storeys high.”

‘YOU MUST BE JOKING’

The proposals also came in for criticism from ward councillor Phil Scott (Lab. – Wishing Tree), who raised concerns about parking in the area.

He said: “I’ve represented Wishing Tree for 23 years so I know the area well and know some of the people well and I know some of the issues as well.

“Having understood that when I looked at the application I thought ‘you must be joking’. Five storeys on this particular site would absolutely tower over everything we’ve got in that area.

“I’m very, very happy and very comfortable to be supporting our officer’s recommendation to refuse this application.”

Cllr Scott also raised concerns about the level of parking proposed, saying he felt the scheme would not provide sufficient spaces.

The application was unanimously refused following discussion by the planning committee.

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