Growing anger over council’s reticence to reveal details of plans for bathing pool site

There’s been a lack of vision and leadership at Hastings Borough Council (HBC) according to campaigners opposed to plans for a housing development on the old bathing pool site in West St Leonards.

Campaigners are not just opposed to plans for more than 150 homes on the site but they are angry that HBC will not reveal details of what is planned despite being on the verge of signing a contract with a developer.

Hastings In Focus has been told that while the proposed sale has been confirmed the precise details of the developer’s scheme have yet to be released: “The council has received draft plans but at the request of the developer has stated that it is not prepared to disclose them until the sale of the land has been completed,” a spokesman for West Marina Group told us.

On Saturday morning campaigners hope to demonstrate the level of unhappiness that exists towards HBC’s actions by staging a mass meeting on the old bathing pool site: “We want to to demonstrate to HBC the level of opposition there is to the building of 152 residential units on this unique and precious site. They talk about the exciting regeneration of this area but seem to lack vision that anything other than dense residential development is viable.”

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In a Facebook call to arms campaigners say: “We are asking everyone that currently uses the site or feels this prestigious site deserves more and should be retained for future generations to come along. Bring banners if you wish but please bring yourselves.
We will be there to see the Park Runners off and are expecting some media coverage, to maximise impact please try and arrive at 8.40am, we will be here until about 11am.”

West Marina Group is not just campaigning for the old bathing pool site but is working on a neighbourhood plan to cover the whole West St Leonards Area.

While it’s understood that proposals being considered by the council include five, five storey blocks of flats on the land immediately opposite Seaside Road HBC will not confirm this to the members of the West Marina Group.

Opposition to the plans for residential development are growing. In late October a Facebook group called St Leonards SOBS Save Our Bathing Site had 543 members, today – less than a month later – that stands at more than 800 with new members joining all the time.

Campaigners believe the site should be earmarked for leisure and recreation use rather than high density housing.

In another mover this week the West marina Group has written to the four candidates bidding to be MP for Hastings and Rye at the forthcoming general election saying; “As a potential champion of the town we hope you will agree with us and lend us your support.

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It’s suggested that five, five storey blocks of flats could be built on this land.

The full text of the letter says: “On behalf of the West Marina Group I am writing to you – and our other parliamentary candidates – to ask for your support in our opposition to the council’s plans for the old bathing pool site in West St Leonards.

“You are probably aware that HBC has announced that a transfer of this land to a developer is imminent, heads of terms having been agreed and that the proposal is to allow up to 152 housing units to be built on the site.

“While the proposed sale has been confirmed the precise details of the developer’s scheme have yet to be released. The council has received draft plans but at the request of the developer has stated that it is not prepared to disclose them until the sale of the land has been completed.

“The interest of the developer is being allowed to take precedence over that of the local community.

“We recognise the need to build more housing but believe this prime seafront location should be principally earmarked for leisure and recreation.

“The town’s economy relies heavily on tourism. Taking into account the impact of climate change on our weather patterns and the imperative to reduce carbon emissions, it is predicted that more and more people will choose to holiday in the UK in the future, and it is vital that the town positions itself to be a become one of the  favoured holiday destinations. As the recent House of Lords report starkly warned , coastal towns must either get creative or they will die.

“A report on the coastal regeneration in English resorts published in 2010 highlighted the need to address the lack of innovation to overcome the adverse aspects of the legacy of the past, noting that Hastings, which has difficult metropolitan access, does not reap discernible benefits from regional prosperity. It said the key is to regenerate the democratic excitement that made the seaside an exciting destination for earlier generations.

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Nothing has been done on the old bathing pool site since the pool complex was demolished three decades ago.

“What has happened since 2002, when Making Waves, a regeneration strategy for Hastings and St Leonards was published by the council?  It was said then that planning work that had been commissioned which would produce a new vision of ‘the seaside’ and what it can offer, and that the town would become one of the most forward thinking seaside towns in England.

“Unfortunately there has been a marked lack of leadership and vision since then.

“The bathing pool site has been sadly neglected over the last 30 years but we believe with leadership and vision it can be transformed into a  destination worthy of the name, a vibrant space for the local community, visitors and business owners alike. Instead of a housing estate, let there be a swimming pool,  flower gardens, a sculpture park, an iconic building or other such amenity that will give pleasure, inspire and help with the much needed regeneration of the town.

“As a potential champion of the of the town we hope you will agree with us and lend us your support.”

Liberal Democrat candidate Nick Perry told Hastings In Focus this afternoon: “I am hoping to be there Saturday morning to support the demo.

“The West Marina Group is so right about the transparency issue, and this council’s tendency to roll over for developers…

“I broadly agree with them about the site and the need for excellent design and amenities. While I am aware that some campaigners don’t want any housing, we Lib Dems do still want to stay focused on the Borough’s housing need.

“Lib Dem colleagues suggest to me that a small amount of housing could be focused on the MoD and former Stamco sites on Cinque Ports Way. Priority in that should be to local need as opposed to second home seaside flats.”

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6 thoughts on “Growing anger over council’s reticence to reveal details of plans for bathing pool site

  1. I absolutely agree.this site should deffinitely be for leasure not housing.we the people of west st. Leonards deserve to be heard.we do not want housing on this site.this site has to be for leasure only.its time west st leonards had some leasure facilities for people to enjoy.we have nothing this end.we want leasure please ,say no to housing on this precious last piece of green.

  2. This is such a farce and a prime example of how “Transparency and Democracy” is selective with this council. They will not divulge the details of the development until they have signed the contract…..Oh and then have a public consultation. You could not make that one up could you. And this is a Labour controlled council who’s leader is standing to be an MP for the borough. I thought these Labour councillors and the party they represent is supposed to be “for the people,” This is going down the same route at their Solar Panel farm in the Country Park. Having been part of the major local campaign where we had two successful public meetings and several hundred objections to the Archery Road redevelopment plans ten years ago, we were ignored.
    Great to see the WMG doing something about it. However, I have a feeling their only hope of success might have to be an expensive legal challenge – a Judicial Review.
    I wish the campaign well and hope they can stop this controlling outfit called HBC

  3. Considering the rotten weather, the turnout was pretty good for the meeting yesterday:.however – it was interesting to note the absence of our Leader Councillor Peter Chowney – far too busy trying to persuade residents to vote for him on 12 December? Surely he could have spared a couple of hours to come along and listen to the serious concerns expressed by residents who do not want this special site turned into a vast high rise housing development.
    But this is what this council does – ignores the protests ofthe majority and just ploughs ahead doing precisely what they intend doing…Is this democracy? Is it heck…Councillor Chowney needs to know that there is a vast majority in this town who will never forgive him if he allows the special West St. Leonards site to be built over. And who would vote for a Leader who behaves in this appalling manner?

  4. Butting in again on this scenario, I have to say Lady Marigold surely you did not think Cllr Chowney or any Labour councillor would attend the demo. He and his cohorts would not have the courage or even the etiquette to face a crowd who do not agree with this plan. Question though was there any Conservative councillor present. West St Leonards is a Conservative Ward. Referring back to the Archery Road public meetings, we never had any Conservative or Labour councillor turn up. The only one that did was Nick Perry who was then a Liberal Councillor.
    As I have said before, residents need to realise if this council leader becomes the local MP it will be a totalitarian controlled council. Going to him for support on something like this will never happen.

    This whole affair demonstrates just how much respect this council and councillors have for the residents of the borough. And note not one Labour councillor has said a word about questioning this development. The same goes for the solar panel farm, the loss of the town centre toilets, the Rocklands landslip and Bunker fiasco. Also not forgetting the crazy Bexhill Road bus lanes, where I know Cllr Chowney never replied to one of his own Labour party members who resides there on that issue.
    I think there is a huge misconception among the public as to the role of a councillor is and how much they really represent and act for you.

  5. The two tory councillors for West St. Leonards do seem very quiet on many local matters – why aren;t they making more waves over this outrageous plan? How many residents know that these two councillors represent this ward? come on Councillor Karl Beaney and Councillor Matthew Beaver – where are you? your constituents voted for you so why are you taking what appears to be a back seat on this important issue?

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