WHEN I first came to St Leonards under two years ago, as I came out of the ticket office I noticed a plaque by the door reading: you are now entering a conservation area.
Ever since then it has been a constant struggle to help to try and save conservation areas here, especially the convent and its grounds in Magdalen Road, referred to in the local plan as ‘the major element in the conservation area now under threat of major development’, as is Burtons’ St Leonards with the proposed overdevelopment of the Archery Grounds.
Why? I think part of the reason these travesties slip through the net is that there is a barely publicised blueprint, done by the planning department every few years which most people don’t even know about.
Hastings Borough Council (HBC) is currently conducting a public consultation on its vision of future of the borough until 2028. The major problem is that the vast majority of local residents are totally unaware of this. The period for public scrutiny started on June 27 and continues until Monday, August 8.
Your views can be expressed online at www.hastings.gov.uk/ldf/consultation.aspx or call 01424 451098 to have a copy of the consultation documents posted to you. For instance, permission has already been granted for a block on the old post office sorting office site.
Also HBC is encouraging proposals for a new development of shops and flats, by knocking down the Alpha cafe and the taxi office by St Leonards Warrior Square Station.
Both of these assets add character to this area, also the ground behind where the railway social club was before it was burnt down. This is not conservation or in the public interest, as this is one of the most densely populated and deprived areas in East Sussex with hundreds of gardenless families.
The excellent but very crowded playground should be extended down the hill onto that site, the small area behind the Alpha cafe should have a public toilet built that would serve the station, playground and Kings Road.
If the planning department behaved in a more general public friendly way, more people would be aware of what the council is planning, instead of all too frequently finding out unpopular developments when it is too late.