Poor treatment of country park

The treatment by the council of Hastings Country Park (Letters, May 27) has been very shabby.

Ecclesbourne Glen is a permanent mess, and Rocklands caravan park still has the bunker blighting views for miles. HBC’s contribution to this sorry situation has extensive.

A new planning application from Rocklands caravan park is for ‘various tree works’ (Planning ref HS/TP/16/00089) — broadly, tree-felling to improve views from inside the caravan park (while spoiling them in the Country Park). Instead of the case going to the Planning Committee for a decision, HBC proposes use of delegated powers.

This is an insult to local democracy. It is also a multiple breach of the council’s Constitution.

Section 8 of the Constitution, Part 3b, Section E, has the relevant details.

The ‘delegated’ matters include Paragraph 43 f: ‘Approval of any matters required to be submitted pursuant to conditions imposed on any permission, consent or approval given under the Town and Country Planning Acts’.

This Rocklands application is a proposed amendment to a Tree Protection Order. The Tree Protection Order for Rocklands (TPO No 286, made in 2015 and viewable online) was given under section 198 of the Town and Country Planning Act 1990.

The application form for the current case asks: ‘Are you seeking consent for works to trees subject to a TPO?’

The ‘Yes’ box is ticked. The tree works application is therefore ‘pursuant to conditions’ as Paragraph 43 f. requires, being an amendment to TPO 286.

Paragraph 43 f. of this part of the council’s Constitution therefore applies.

Paragraph 44 a. then details the exemptions from the use of delegated powers — including where there are three letters of objection or a petition.

In this instance there are over 60 objections and a petition of 111 signatures. Clearly this case qualifies for exemption from delegated powers and should go to the Planning Committee, for a decision by our elected representatives.

HBC have a duty to protect the Country Park. Instead, their planning judgements have been persistently dire, and give them a poor reputation. The bunker is a monument to delegated powers, and HBC planners and planning committee should be ashamed of themselves.

By the way, the £45,000 spent on refurbing the Aquila House tourist office included the cost of removing its letterbox. Now there isn’t one for the new Town Hall: not much democratic participation there either.

Bernard McGinley

Magdalen Road

St Leonards

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