The three-day Public Inquiry due to be heard by a Planning Inspector at the Hastings Borough Council (HBC) chamber next month has been cancelled following withdrawal of the planning appeal which provoked it. In Issue 112 HIP reported that an appeal made by BBCN Limited against the council’s rejection of its application for permission to build nine houses off Barley Lane, with the prospect of further more extensive applications behind it, had triggered the Inquiry, on the basis that the appellant company intended to make a fundamental challenge to the council’s housing programme. BBCN were arguing that HBC had failed to provide sufficient “housing land supply”, i.e. land on which it had permitted house building, to meet the target in the Local Plan: a minimum of 1,248 residential units over the next five years.

BBCN has not made public its reasons for withdrawal.  The directors may, or may not, have been influenced by this newspaper’s public airing of past improper selling tactics and murky financial dealings connected with the proposed development. Neighbouring residents and others who raised multiple objections to it are certainly very pleased.  However observers of the wider housing scene in Hastings may feel just a tad disappointed – not at the quashing of ideas to develop at the particular site at Barley Lane, but at the loss of opportunity for HBC to be given a thorough cross-examination as to what its house-building figures really are.

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