Planners have given outline approval to a major housing development in Hastings.
At a meeting on Wednesday (September 12), Hastings Borough Council planners granted outline permission to build up to 140 homes on the former playing grounds at Harrow Lane.
The application had been put forward by the council itself in connection with developer Kember Loudon Williams.
As an outline application, councillors only agreed to the principle of development, with all elements of the application apart from site access to be decided at a later date.
Before making a decision the committee heard representations against the application from John Rankin (Con. – Conquest), who spoke on behalf of petitioners who objected to the scheme.
Cllr Rankin said: “The [petitioners’] objection is in regard to highway safety and parking related matters. I won’t mention any of the reserved matters it will purely be on traffic safety and traffic flow measures.
“What I’m going to try and do tonight is show you three material considerations – which all relate purely to access – which I feel are grounds to have serious concerns about this application in its current form.”
During his representations, Cllr Rankin criticised the evidence provided by East Sussex Highways which deemed the site access ‘acceptable’ and raised concerns about future parking arrangements.
He also criticised the choice not to install a mini-roundabout as the site’s main access point, saying the choice had been made ‘based on appearance’ rather than for engineering reasons.
Questions around the choice not to install a mini-roundabout had been asked by the committee at a previous meeting due to concerns that the proposed access road could cause further traffic problems on The Ridge – a road councillors described as ‘badly congested’.
As a result of their concerns, councillors asked for the application to be deferred in order to seek further information from East Sussex Highways about what alternative access arrangements had been considered.
In response East Sussex Highways said installing a mini-roundabout would be likely to decrease road safety unless further works were put in place. These further works could lead to the development becoming ‘unviable’ as a result of additional costs, the committee heard.
Recommending the application for approval, Mike Turner (Lab. – Baird) said insisting on a roundabout would ‘cause a terrible accident’ and see motorists acting ‘like bumpercars’.
He said: “If it wasn’t the borough council [applying] and we said ‘look we are not happy with this, it’s not safe’ then that developer would automatically go to the inspector.
“The issue begins, way back, with the link road itself. People agreed to that, they knew what the forward plan was and they knew this development was in the forward plan. Objections should have been raised then.
“We are at the mercy of East Sussex County Council, lets not forget that. They are supposed to be the experts and we don’t have the grounds on which to say we are not going to agree for this to go forward with outline planning permission.”
Following a debate the application was approved, with six votes in favour and two against.