ONE of the town’s most controversial developments in recent years has been given the green light after the number of new homes proposed was cut by 15 per cent.
Avant Homes’s (formerly Gladedale) new application for the scheme on the former Hastings College site in Archery Road, St Leonards, was discussed by the council’s planning committee on Wednesday (November 6).
The developer’s re-designed scheme involving the construction of a number of new houses and flats and conversion of the Grade II listed Archery Villas, making a total of 121 houses and flats, was unanimously approved. Work is expected to begin in the New Year.
A previous application for planning permission for 144 units on the site was refused by the council in June last year and the subsequent appeal was dismissed.
Since that time the public has been consulted twice on the revised plans, with the finished version put on public display in July.
Affordable housing is to make up 21.5 per cent of the scheme, which includes a mixture of one, two and three bed apartments, and three and four bed houses.
Councillor Michael Wincott, speaking at the planning meeting, said: “I think the developers went above and beyond in terms of consultation.
“This is a superb scheme and we should all embrace it.”
Councillor Richard Street added: “The developers have gone a long way to meeting the objections that I made, that the committee made, and the inspector made.”
Campaign group STAG (Save The Archery Ground) had been strongly opposed to the original scheme and its perceived detrimental impact on the Conservation Areas of Burtons’ St Leonards and West St Leonards.
However, in a letter to the council’s senior planner Karen Phillips, Lee Wilson of STAG wrote of the amended scheme: “We believe the current application...[shows] a deeper understanding of the importance of this site and its historic and architectural status within Burtons’ St Leonards and its environs.
“We believe that it does respond to criticisms of the earlier scheme that were raised by us and by many of our supporters.
“It also seeks to address the design deficiencies that were the primary objections cited by the planning inspector in dismissing the appeal last year.”
One local resident, Martin Cooper, who addressed the planning committee, was concerned about the proposed removal of trees along the Archery Road West side of the development, and voiced his dismay at what he said was a lack of consultation of all residents.
Architect for the scheme Marcus Beale said however: “I think it has been the fullest community engagement that we as a practice have been involved in ever.”
He added that although 81 trees were to be lost overall, 124 new trees were to be planted.
Hastings Badger Protection Society remains in opposition to the scheme as it is of the opinion that the proper wildlife surveys have not been carried out.