Hastings 67-home development turned down

Plans for a major housing development have been refused by Hastings councillors. 

Thursday, 29th April 2021, 2:32 pm

On Wednesday (April 28), Hastings Borough Council’s planning committee considered an application to build 67 homes on land off of The Ridge, with an access road off of Harrow Lane.

The site had previously been granted outline planning permission for up to 50 homes and has provisionally been allocated for up to 98 homes in the draft Hastings Local Plan. 

While the scheme had been recommended for approval by planning officers on this basis, the committee felt the proposals would be an overdevelopment of the site, which would have a detrimental impact on the character of the surrounding area.

Development's proposed layout
Development's proposed layout

Proposing refusal, Cllr Matthew Beaver (Con) said: “We should not be referring to what may happen in a draft local plan in the future. We should be relying on the current local plan which is in place and according to the current local plan that is in place policy LR83 of the Hastings planning strategy allocates the site for residential with an identified capacity of 50 dwellings. 

“It doesn’t matter what the draft local plan says. It could say four dwellings, it could say 100 dwellings. It is a draft, a proposal for the future and to be honest has no relevance to this current development.”

He added: “We have a chance to show developers that we can’t be pushed about as mentioned at previous meetings. This is our chance to do so and this is our chance to get a much better, more environmentally sustainable development, there for the town and the residents.”

Cllr Beaver raised a number of other concerns around the proposals, including its lack of sustainable energy generation (such as solar panels) and electric car charging points.

He – and other councillors – also disputed arguments from East Sussex Highways that the scheme would have an acceptable impact on the local road network subject to the developer, Park Lane Homes South East Ltd, providing money for road improvements.

Some concerns had also been raised around the site’s position between two other major developments, which are expected to move ahead. These other sites – both of which now have planning permission – are Holmhurst St Mary (208 homes) directly to the east and Harrow Lane Playing Fields (140 homes) to the south. 

Officers warned against including some of these arguments in the reasons for refusal, however. 

Eleanor Evans, the council’s head of planning, said: “The government advise that if there is a concern raised regarding an application, if a condition can be attached that would overcome that concern, then that condition should be attached instead of that application being refused.

“By not doing so, a decision made to refuse could incur costs if it went to appeal. So in terms of the concerns raised about solar panels [and] electric vehicle charging we can easily add a condition to address that.”

Mrs Evans also pointed out that the application was for full planning permission, rather than a reserved matters proposal stemming from the outline scheme. This meant it could not be refused for going beyond the 50 homes approved at outline, she said.

On the highways concerns, she said, only the impact of the additional 17 homes could be considered as 50 homes had already been approved. 

Officers also said the fact the scheme proposed more houses than included in the current local plan was not sufficient grounds for refusal on its own. 

Committee members, however, felt the proposed scheme would be too large a development for the site and would harm the character of the area. 

Following further discussions the scheme was refused with five votes to four. 

The scheme had been proposed to provide 67 homes made up of: two one-bed flats; two two-bed flats; 37 two-bed houses (nine with home offices); 13 three-bed houses; and 13 four-bed houses.

For further information on the proposals see application reference HS/FA/20/00970 on the Hastings Borough Council website.