Housing at St Leonards flood risk site given thumbs up

Proposed site layout
Proposed site layout

Council plans to build housing at a high flood risk site in St Leonards have been given the go ahead.

On Thursday (June 6), Hastings Borough Council’s planning committee approved an outline application to build 16 houses on land behind Bexhill Road – a site classified as being at high risk of sea flooding.

The committee heard how the proposals – which had been put forward by the council itself – included extensive flood defences and that additional work done in light of a previous application for the site being refused last year.

However, the proposals sat uneasily with Conservative councillor Matthew Beaver, who represents the West St Leonards ward the site falls within as well as sitting on the planning committee.

Cllr Beaver said: “You cannot tell me that in all the sites we have around the town – in areas not at risk of flooding – there cannot be an addition of 16 residential properties.”

“I am going to propose refusal again because development should not be allocated or permitted if there are reasonably available sites appropriate for the proposed development in areas at lower risk of flooding.

“I think there are, I think residents know there are, I think officers know there are.”

Cllr Beaver argued that there were flaws in the way the council had identified the site for development over other sites with a lower risk of flooding.

This identification process, known as the sequential test, aims to steer development away from high flood risk areas if there are other, more appropriate, sites where the development could take place.

Council planning officers disagreed with Cllr Beaver’s assessment, however, telling the committee the sequential test had been followed appropriately, with more than 30 alternative sites being considered.

The committee also heard that the new flood defences proposed would improve the current state of the site – increasing the protections for existing properties.

This argument won support from several councillors, including Cllr Warren Davies (Lab, Baird) who proposed the scheme for approval.

Cllr Davies said: “We have got an array of SuDS (Sustainable Drainage System) and mitigation measures to be put in place. We are being told by all the professionals that these measures will be effective.

“These measures are of such an extent that they will protect the present buildings from future flooding. That is a very powerful case.

“On that basis – that you are getting housing plus measures that protect the existing homes from flooding – it seems to suggest it is an obvious decision.”

Following further discussion the application was approved with five votes in favour to three against and one abstention.

As an outline application, the final details of the scheme will require further planning permission at a later date.

A total of 13 houses are proposed for the site, which are expected to be a mix of seven affordable homes and nine market houses.

For further details see application reference HS/OA/19/00153 on the Hastings Borough Council planning website.