It’s not homes or jobs, we can have both!

From: Cllr Terry Byrne, Portfolio holder for housing. Rother District Council

Hastings Direct site in Bexhill. SUS-210921-110444001
Hastings Direct site in Bexhill. SUS-210921-110444001

I was very disappointed to see the headline “Opposition to homes on former Bexhill High School site”, especially as it could so easily have read “Local MP praises Rother District Council’s success in being awarded £500,000 from the governments Brownfield Land Release Fund.

The opposition referred to came from the president of the local chamber of commerce and it would seem that the chamber is opposed to housing developments in general, having first opposed the development of the Hastings Direct building for housing and now opposing the high school site.

At a conservative estimate these sites could provide at least 120 new homes in Bexhill for potential customers of local businesses.

The president of the chamber is quite properly concerned at the loss of a motorcycle rider training facility, however, 1066 Motorcycle Training were only ever granted a temporary lease by the county council and at any time could have sought assistance from the Locate East Sussex a government funded organization, to find a permanent site. This assistance is available to any business wishing to relocate locally and their website is really worth a look.

So it’s not homes or jobs, we can have both and Rother District Council is vigorously pursuing both aims through re-generation projects and through the newly formed housing company Alliance Homes (Rother) Ltd.

The chamber’s president seems somewhat suspicious about the composition of the board of the company and implies that rules concerning conflict of interest are being ignored. I would like to point out to him that none of the board members are full time members of the planning committee. One of the board members is allowed to attend the meetings in his capacity as chairman of the council but is not allowed to vote and the other two members referred to are in fact reserves for the committee and would only attend in the event of sickness. Also the company is currently seeking to appoint two or three external board members who will add housing experience to the board.

Finally I would like to say that I’m sure that if Rother District Council, the chamber, the county council and the voluntary sector all work together we can address the housing shortage, encourage businesses to move in to the area and achieve a thriving and growing local economy that works all our residents.

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