Residents form watchdog to tackle “unfair” planning system

Richard Price
Richard Price

EIGHTEEN months ago a number of local residents formed a group sharing a common concern for the way planning issues were being dealt with in the borough.

The Hastings Planning and Heritage Watchdog evolved when people in the town became aware they were not alone in being subjected to an what they saw as an “unfair” planning system.

The group also monitors empty homes in the borough and what can be done with them.

Meeting regularly, the group has around 20 members.

Richard Price, group spokesman, said: “It’s hard to get anybody to do anything about these empty homes.

“If you have an empty homes, the lead will eventually get stripped off the roof and windows, and they just end up going to wrack and ruin.

“The Hastings Cottage and Hurst Court were a prime example of neglect.

“Lewis Carroll, author of Alice In Wonderland, had treatment in Hastings Cottage for his stammer but it was still razed to the ground.

“The buildings were left empty for many years and eventually there were fires in both of them.

“It’s a staggering number of empty homes - why can’t they afford to compulsory purchase more? It’s not good enough.”

Kevin Boorman, spokesman for tHastings Borough Council, said: “The council has successfully piloted a compulsory purchase order (CPO) scheme for helping to bring back into use long term empty privately-owned dwellings.

“Last December, the council’s cabinet approved seven CPOs of long term empty privately owned dwellings.

“On the success of this, in August the council further approved the seeking of CPOs on 14 other properties, again all long term empty dwellings.

“Since 2000 our empty homes longer than six months have fallen from 1800 to 739.

“Our housing renewal department has been involved in bringing more than 500 empty properties back into use.”