Fury over plans to build houses on flood plain

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Angry residents have launched a campaign to fight against proposals to demolish a community centre and build new houses.

Developers from housing association AmicusHorizon want to build between 70 and 100 homes on land off Filsham Road in St Leonards where South Saxons Wetlands is based.

Residents protest over plans to demolish West St Leonards Community Centre. SUS-141127-124958001

Residents protest over plans to demolish West St Leonards Community Centre. SUS-141127-124958001

But residents are furious, saying the demise of the community centre will be detrimental to the neighbourhood and the area would become more prone to flooding.

More than 100 people met at West St Leonards Community Centre on Monday (November 24) to voice their opposition. A Facebook group has been set up, as well as an online petition, attracting more than 150 signatures.

Cy Lowery, of William Road, who chaired Monday’s meeting, said: “The centre caters for groups ranging from mums and toddlers, to pensioners at regular bingo and social sessions to war-gamers who come from as far as Eastbourne. The communal hall proposed could not possibly meet the social needs of the wider community.

“People drew attention to the increasing flooding problems in the area. Bexhill Road is also always congested with traffic by Filsham Road. It’s atrocious. Concern was also expressed whether or not schools could cope with additional pupils. Carol Pierce, of the Friends of the South Saxons Wetlands, was applauded when she spoke of the work the Friends have put in over the last 30 years to protect and improve the wildlife value of South Saxons Wetlands and the need for people to continue to have access to this vital green space for recreation.”

Neill Tickle, development director for AmicusHorizon, said: “We are committed to the improvement and regeneration of West St Leonards. This new development would bring new homes to the area. In addition the site includes plans for a state-of-the-art Extra Care scheme with 60 homes for older local residents. Extra Care living combines independence with support when required. We see the local community as integral to the success of the new scheme both through the construction phase, via local labour and apprenticeships, and once completed. It would include communal spaces that could be used by local people for clubs, meetings and other functions. The on-site café would also be open to the public and will form a social area for people to meet and access services.”

Karen Bowles, of ESCC, added: “The planned development will preserve and enhance access to the South Saxons wetlands and include flood measures as required by the Environment Agency.”

A decision is expected by the borough council 
early next year.

To visit the Facebook page log onto www.facebook.com/groups/SaveSouthSaxon.

The online petition is at http://epetition.eastsussex.public-i.tv/epetition_core/community/petition/2910.