Your correspondents (Observer, March 13) criticising objectors to the plans for the country park visitor centre are showing the same complacent and blinkered attitude as the Hastings borough councillors who came up with this self-approved scheme.
They turn a blind eye to some serious potential consequences for the country park. It may not be Disneyfication but it is undeniably commercialisation. Why else would the council grant itself approval for an entertainments and liquor licence for what should continue to be simply a nature reserve visitor centre for enjoying and learning about the natural world?
Most objectors agree that some improvements to the visitor centre were desirable. What they cannot agree with are these elaborate, even ostentatious, plans, that grandiose design and so many add-ons, which threaten exactly what is so special about the country park.
Clanging steel staircase to rooftop viewing gallery? The whole park is a viewing gallery. Play area? The park is a wonderful natural play area. Cafe with liquor licence? There is an excellent cafe close by, whose owners’ very livelihood is now at risk. Even the siting of the centre is unnecessarily obtrusive when there were so many better options.
Furthermore, although approval is for only 9am to 5pm opening, it’s not hard to detect the thinking behind these statements: ‘The site has been chosen to allow for possible future expansion’; ‘The council will continue to encourage the maximum use of these facilities’; ‘envisioning an open air theatre, weddings and parties’.
Noise pollution, light pollution, loud music, fireworks, alcohol, and one of the last places in the south east where people can find peace, quiet and night-time darkness is sacrificed to commercialism. Another victim of the inappropriate development which is the scourge of our times, degrading a place of unique beauty and tranquillity to make money.
The Hastings borough councillors of 1939 firmly rejected a planning application for a holiday camp within the park. They showed a determination to preserve and protect the Park which is sadly lacking in the councillors of 2015.
The objectors are the ones who truly love the country park and desperately want it to remain what it has always been – a nature reserve pure and simple, where people can enjoy to the full the joys of nature, magnificent views, and the magic of the night sky. That’s real positive thinking.