Council planning rift caused uproar

THE scene at last Wednesday’s planning committee meeting (July 20) was akin to a skit from Monty Python where Cllrs Daniel and Gurney criticised and rebuked the petitioner, Aubery Ingleton, for his objection to the Queensbury House planning application, followed with an uproar from the public gallery for their behaviour. The situation displayed just shows how enormous a rift continues between the council and local residents on planning applications over the past few years.

Here was another major planning application that had moved in a swift, smooth and quiet course along the council conveyer belt until it hit the committee agenda.

This huge development proposed by Sea Space, the local regeneration quango to build an office block, Queensbury House in Havelock Road, ignited public concern and raised eye brows was not embraced by the audience.

With the demolition of several downtown buildings up will go another Lacuna Place-styled structure.

Apart from the disapproval of the development itself but more importantly the repetition of a failure by the council to engage the borough in a full pre-application process given the size, impact and change to the downtown area. The council also did itself no favours by conveying this proposal mainly through the medium of the internet, where with planning issues it is often an element of expertise to navigate around their system to view the application. Or you must make sure you see the small print in the back of the local newspaper of the development.

Many towns have learned, sadly not this one, that it is not very sustainable to keep knocking our buildings down – environmentally or socially.

The identity of downtown Hastings like other parts of the borough is made up from the layering of its history, not from the shiny blobby buildings it has managed to collect in recent years.

History helps us make sense of our towns. It contributes to our sense of community and it connects people to where they live. Queensbury House will never achieve this.