Saturday morning protest to oppose Harrow Lane Playing Field sell-off

There’s mounting anger at plans by the council to sell-off Harrow Lane playing fields for housing and in the process depriving that part of town of its last open green space.

That’s why there is a protest tomorrow morning at 11am when organisers hope people will turn out to show their opposition to the proposed sell-off.

More than 700 people have already signed a petition calling on Hastings Borough Council (HBC) not to sell off the playing fields for housing and now the Conservative councillors on the council say they are: “…firmly opposed to the sale of Harrow Lane playing fields, a precious green space which, once the adjoining development sites are built on, will be the last remaining ‘green lung’ in Ashdown Ward.

“If the pandemic has taught us anything it is that we need space to exercise, walk the dog, kick a ball about and generally chill out. We all know what happened on the adjoining site, it looks like a moonscape now but imagine 67 houses crammed onto that site.

The playing fields as they are today. When the land was gifted to the town covenants were placed on the deeds meaning the site should remain ‘for residents to enjoy’.

“They want to put more than 140 houses on the playing field site our protest is to tell the Labour group that runs the council that the playing field is ‘not for sale’ and we would welcome all residents to come and join us to make their feelings known.“

When the Harrow Lane playing field was gifted to HBC covenants were placed on the deed that meant that the site would remain an area for residents to enjoy, Councillor Paul Foster says: “HBC has now decided to break those covenants by selling the site for development. Thereby, not living up to the hopes and aspirations of the benefactor.”

Click here to go to the petition that has ben set up to ask local people to show they do not support the council’s plans and to request that HBC ‘immediately stop’ its plans to sell the Harrow Lane Playing Field. The council is also asked to recognise that the area actually belongs to the people of Hastings, “…not the  council who are merely the custodian of the deeds.”

Calvin Humphries says: “This is a key green space in a disadvantaged area for working class kids to play on, take this away and you encourage deliquentism! (sic).”

Jennifer Fletcher adds: “Always been grateful for this space. It is needed by so many and should remain the way it is.”

The entrance to the playing fields where a protest against the council’s sell-off plans will take place at 11am tomorrow.

Councillor Andy Patmore, leader of the Conservative group on HBC has written an open letter to the council that asks for the land to be withdrawn from sale saying he believes the sale of the playing fields, seems contrary to the council’s aspirations outlined in its Town Deal objective to, “…create the South East’s first green garden town.” 

HBC’s objective says: “Visitors will also want to see the South East’s first green garden town. Green arteries buzzing with biodiversity will connect our old Norman harbour of a town centre to its nationally recognised countryside parks, seafront and urban parks. This, coupled with the wider movement and access plans and curation of our street scene, will transform the town and allow room to breathe, think and dwell – attracting much needed footfall into our town centre.” 

Mr Patmore suggests it would be a healthier aspiration for HBC to re-designate Harrow Lane Playing Fields as a park, which he says is ‘much needed’ in that part of town?  

Outline planning permission already exists for the site which would see 142 new homes built there.

“We would like to see the Council adopt a ‘wait and see’ approach for the Harrow Lane Playing Fields site as there are a number of housing developments in the pipeline for that area. The Council is also going through a consultation period for the new Local Plan and the sale seems to pre-empt its outcome,” he tells HBC 

There are already more than 420 dwellings that have been granted – or are pending – planning approval to be built in the immediate vicinity including the Ashdown House site. Mr Patmopre says the Conservative Group believe it would be prudent for the Council to see the full impact of all the planned development before taking the decision to sell Harrow Lane Playing Fields.

“With the number of planned housing units in the immediate area, there is a strong argument to continue to use this space as much needed recreational land for the enjoyment of the 420 planned new households,” he says. 

His letter concludes: “A deferment of the decision to sell this land would allow the Council time to reconsider the sale and keep control of this site and its ability to make decisions over its future use. 

“The Conservative group would respectfully ask HBC to stop the sale of Harrow Lane Playing Fields, leaving this recreational space for the local people to enjoy, and re-think where Harrow Lane Playing Fields sits in our overall town planning ideology and aspirations.” 

Labour’s Councillor Andrew Batsford, the lead member with responsibility for housing says: “I’m listening to the nearly 2,000 families on the housing waiting list. The 300 in temp accommodation, the thousands struggling to find an affordable homes to rent. We have to be honest and know there’s a balancing act between retaining and enhancing bio diversity and open spaces and the real crisis in housing here in Hastings.”

What do you think? Does the town need housing more than it needs green spaces and playing fields? Use the comment section below to share your opinion.

3 thoughts on “Saturday morning protest to oppose Harrow Lane Playing Field sell-off

  1. I will be up there tomorow to listen and talk to those that turn up. Its important there is that dialogue, but the need for the whole town to be part of the solution of our housing crisis providing real affordable local homes for local people and families we can not duck this issue.
    I have lost count now on the number of sites the Conservatives are saying no to.
    Harrow lane.
    Grove school
    Lower tier
    Bssicly anywhere they smell votes they are throwing thousands of families under the broken housing market bus.

  2. No wonder there are so many overweight and obese people around the town when ore and more of the town’s playing fields are disappearing/ earmarked for housing. Over the last 30 years how many football pitches, cricket’s squares, bowling greens, hockey pitches, athletics tracks, plus putting greens, pitch and putt and grass court tennis courts disappeared? Not forgetting the Bathing pool and a decent indoor pool like the White Rock Baths. Save the NHS!!! So many unhealthy people I the town we are stressing the NHS!!!

  3. I can see from Cllr Batsford’s comments no open stretch of greenfield site is protected despite it disappearing in the borough.
    Even if it is a known flood plain ( Bulverhyte) that doesn’t matter. Then the West St Leonards bathing pool.
    And not forgetting the Labour cabal’s attempt to fill ten acres of the Country Park with solar panels.
    It might be worth executing some serious action on long term empty homes to make a dent in the waiting list for homes mentioned.
    In 2020 Empty Homes UK listed the borough as having 805 long term empty units. And in 2017 this Labour council announced their intentions to tackle this. How well have they done in the past four years?

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