Hastings MP, councillors and residents protest against plan to sell Harrow Lane playing fields

Residents and councillors took part in a protest on Saturday (July 10) against the proposed sale of playing fields to developers.

Hastings and Rye MP, Sally-Ann Hart, together with Cllrs Mike Edwards and John Rankin, attended the event.

The large group protested against plans to sell Harrow Lane playing fields to a private property developer.

Cllr Edwards led the protest and said the playing fields were gifted to Hastings Borough Council by a local philanthropist with a covenant that the land could only be used for recreational purposes.

Protestors at Saturday's event SUS-211207-134013001

He said: “It was great to see such a good turnout of people who are firmly opposed to development on the last green lung in Ashdown ward.”

Cllr John Rankin, who was also in attendance, said: “Hastings Borough Council have taken it upon themselves to sell off a valuable asset which has belonged to the people of Hastings for more than 100 years.

“I am on record as being against this when I spoke at a planning meeting in 2018 and a forum in 2016.

“There will always be a need for housing but there are three other privately-owned sites in the vicinity, which have consent for many hundreds of new homes and I just don’t understand why Hastings are so keen to cash in on this land.”

Mrs Hart said: “The playing fields have to be kept as a green space for local people, particularly in view of the increase in housing proposed for the area.”

An online petition has already received nearly 1,000 signatures and can be found at bit.ly/3w8KKnK.

In 2019, Hastings Borough Council granted outline planning permission for the construction of 140 dwellings on the site.

A council spokesman said: “As a council we are focusing on creating affordable housing that offers our community better quality living conditions.

“The council has very few sites we own and therefore must make difficult decisions about fulfilling the housing need in our borough.

“The Harrow Lane site provides a massive opportunity to deliver 140 100 per cent affordable homes for the people of Hastings.

“This will mean local people who are desperately waiting for a home receive our support and a safe, secure home where they can thrive and be an asset to our town for generations to come.

“The principle of development on the site at Harrow Lane for residential use was set out in the Development Management Plan (September 2015).

“Before this plan was adopted the site was subjected to a rigorous assessment to prove that its use as a sport and recreational area was surplus to requirements and it was suitable for the delivery of 140 residential units.

“In 2018 Planning Committee considered an application for outline permission on the site. Permission was granted as committee were satisfied that the concerns raised by Sport England and local residents regarding the recreational value had been considered at the Local Plan inquiry.

“Committee were also satisfied that the sites designation for residential use had been thoroughly considered and tested, and that the loss of the recreational space was considered acceptable in land use terms.

“The council fully accepts that there is balance to be struck between housing development and the need for open spaces and sport facilities.

“That is why it is important that everyone in the borough engages in the development of the Local Plan where difficult decisions are faced on how to meet the Government’s housing targets and our pressing need for more housing within the boundaries of the borough.”

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