Nearly 100 people have already registered written objections to a planning application lodged with Hastings Borough Council by SeaChange Sussex to build a new business park on North Queensway with public sector funding. The site is next to Marline Valley nature reserve and Site of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI) and, as we reported in February (HIP 170: North Queensway Plans Contested by Natural England), SeaChange’s plans fly in the face of serious concerns expressed by Natural England.

Marline Valley woods
CREDIT: Seachangewatch

Marline Valley nature reserve is owned by Hastings Borough Council (HBC) but leased to Sussex Wildlife Trust. Natural England, the government’s adviser for the natural environment, told HBC that it has ‘considerable concerns’ about the plans because of the runoff into the SSSI which could damage fragile habitats. It goes on to say that there should be no development at all on part of the land nearest the SSSI, described as plot 2.1.

Despite this, the plans that SeaChange Sussex have submitted include three large units and 57 parking spaces on this plot. In its business case for the funding, SeaChange stated that building less than the full 4,000m2 of units “would significantly diminish the returns that it expects from its investment in the project and so a reduced project option has been discounted”.

Andrea Needham, co-ordinator of Seachangewatch, an organisation set up to monitor the activities of SeaChange Sussex, said last week: “Natural England has been very clear that there should be no development on plot 2.1 because of serious risks to the fragile habitat of Marline Valley. SeaChange has utterly disregarded this, putting profit in front of protecting our precious green spaces. I would urge anyone who is concerned about this to put in an objection immediately to the planning application as well as contacting their local councillor. SeaChange has a long history of destroying our green spaces for projects which never produce the promised outcomes. 

“People in Hastings are sick to death of this unaccountable company, and it’s high time the council took a very close look at its activities rather than simply rubberstamping every project they propose.”

Anyone wishing to comment further on the planning application should do so by the end of June on the HBC website – reference HS/FA/21/00327.

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