Hastings Green Party has called on Hastings Borough Council (HBC) to properly scrutinise the work of regeneration company SeaChange Sussex.
A representative from Hastings Council sits on the board of SeaChange, along with representatives from Rother District and East Sussex County Councils. According to Green councillor Julia Hilton not one of the councils has ever scrutinised SeaChange she says: “It is well past time that our local councils took a long hard look at this company, rather than simply approving every project without question”.
Sussex Wildlife Trust, which leases Marline Valley SSSI from Hastings Borough Council, has also condemned SeaChange, having put in a strongly-worded objection to the company’s plans to build a new business park on its North Queensway site. SWT raised concerns about ancient woodland, biodiversity, pollution of the SSSI, and the impact of the development on bats. You can read the full objection here.
Natural England also put in a damning comment on SeaChange’s North Queensway plans, raising concerns about building in the plot nearest the SSSI, which it has told SeaChange multiple times to avoid. It is concerned about the 25 per cent loss of biodiversity, with no mitigation planned. It says the buffer zone between parts of the development and nearby ancient woodland is insufficient, and the author of the report is clearly agitated, stating repeatedly that Natural England has advised SeaChange about all these issues before. Natural England has asked SeaChange to supply more information, and says that without it, it ‘may need to object’ to the application.
SeaChange’s application for planning permission for North Queensway includes not only speculative units, but also a car showroom. This is the replacement for Bartlett’s SEAT, which is currently situated on the route of the Queensway Gateway road, preventing its completion.
Greens believe that by including te development of the showroom in this application, SeaChange is putting extra pressure on the planning committee to pass it, as they will be aware that until the new car showroom is built the Queensway Gateway Road, now five years behind schedule, cannot be completed.
SeaChange already has permission for the car showroom. This was granted in January 2019 and is valid until January 2022. As long as SeaChange starts even minimal work before that date, the permission will remain valid. Hastimgs Gren Party believes rolling the car showroom application into the wider business park is unnecessary.