Protestors to hold rally against St Leonards business park plans

Objectors to plans for a new business park in St Leonards are planning a protest rally next month.

The event, organised by Seachangewatch, will be held on the proposed site of the North Queensway Innovation Park, on August 8.

It will feature speakers and a chance to take a guided tour of Marline Valley nature reserve.

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Objectors say the application, submitted by Sea Change Sussex, has already attracted nearly 200 objections, as well as a petition.

A previous protest at the North Queensway site. Picture from Seachangewatch SUS-210727-103417001

The development is opposed by Marline Wood leasee Sussex Wildlife Trust and local renewable energy co-operative Energise Sussex Coast, while Natural England expressed ‘considerable concerns’ about the application.

Seachangewatch co-ordinator Andrea Needham said: “Sea Change Sussex has been given £3.5m of public money for this destructive project and is utterly ignoring the calls from Natural England to take steps to protect Marline Valley.

“We are calling on Hastings Borough Council to refuse the planning application, which threatens yet another of our precious green spaces.

“It is also completely unsustainable, in a location very difficult to reach except by car.

“Hastings Borough Council has declared a climate emergency; if it now grants permission for this biodiversity-reducing, climate change-inducing project, the hollowness of that declaration will be exposed once and for all.”

Last month, Sea Change Sussex said the proposed scheme is a ‘a vital part of the local economic development programme’.

A spokesman said: “The development would provide much-needed premises to enable Hastings firms to expand, to support jobs for local people and to boost the town’s post-Covid recovery.

“The scheme has been brought forward on a site allocated for employment use within the Local Plan.

“Prior to the detailed development of the scheme, Natural England raised some concerns about the potential impact on the hydrology of the Marline Valley SSSI.

“We’ve taken these comments fully into account, alongside detailed hydrological survey and engineering design work, to bring forward proposals that will have a negligible impact on the Marline Valley, if any at all.

“We’re confident this is a project that would have a huge positive effect on local businesses, jobs and the local economy, and we hope it will be recognised as a vital initiative to help Hastings bounce back from the pandemic.”