Kay Green

Kay Green on books, life, the universe and, currently, quite a lot of politics

Hastings, Housing, Politics, Uncategorized

No, no, no, no … Yes!

A typical town centre new-build hotel

The normal and natural human response to development plans is ‘NO!’ This is primarily down to human nature. I have said very wordy ‘no’s to most planning proposals when consultations come my way.

We don’t like change, we don’t like instability, we don’t like the unknown. In a time of insecurity and hardship, this feeling is magnified and emotionally charged. Most developments are commercial and not for the good of the communities they happen in. Most council planning officers are comfortably middle-class or above, and don’t feel the same threats that a lot of us do.

'waste ground' - a grassy space near the sea in Hastings, earmarked for development
No! I *like* this open space by the sea at the end of town.

Councillors

And then there’s councillors. It’s very hard for insecure or hard-up people to be councillors, they work long hours and receive only a meagre allowance for their pains, so councillors are usually retired people and/or people with a comfortable income and a nice home in a nice bit of town. They don’t get a lot of sympathy if they sit in their leafy suburbs with their generous gardens and enthuse about urban, high-density developments. They don’t get a lot of sympathy if they enthuse about the need for housing, then talk about ‘affordable’ homes that most people in private rented accommodation can’t possibly afford.

bohemia
No! I like the wild green bits behind the fringe of trees behind the current leisure centre.

But

If we had a government that allowed councils to build genuine social housing, things might be different. In the meantime, we need to be aware of councils’ efforts to get as near as they can, under the current government, to genuine housing solutions. We need to be aware of things our communities really do need – in my mind, in my town, good quality community space, cheap meeting venues and other facilities are desperately needed and should be encouraged, as should the council housing company that is working its way toward providing as much genuinely affordable housing as it can.

bohemia too
No! I like the scruffy bit behind the Oval where you can walk, and look right across town to the East Hill.

But

In many towns, there is already a shortage of *undeveloped space* – spaces some may think of as scruffy wasteland, but others find a wonderful place to wander or for kids to play, or just to get away from corporate space and breathe. My pet hate is councils using up undeveloped land to make “leisure facilities” which end up being less fun, and more expensive, than the spaces they deprive us of in order to build them. Depends what you do with your leisure time, doesn’t it – and my town is very hilly so those scruffy little refuges of foxes, badgers and birds are also holding-spaces that provide magnificent views for residents.

But

I think our council just had a great idea. And I think it’s getting a lot of knee-jerk ‘no’s for all the reasons above, when those reasons don’t really apply.

Do we need a hotel in the middle of Hastings?

car park
The proposed site for a hotel development

The space being considered for a hotel development is currently a small open-air car-park, just over the road from a multi-storey carpark, and five minutes walk away from another multi-story carpark, so it’s hard to believe the carpark will be badly missed.

There’s nothing beautiful about a run-of-the-mill new-build hotel – but such a hotel right there will offer jobs in the town centre. and create much more coming and going in the evenings between the station, those carparks and the town centre – and people coming and going is not only potential custom for little shops  and cafes currently having a hard time, it’s also security. If there are people using streets, those streets are safe, because there are people there looking out for each other.

This habitual naysayer would like to shout out for the hotel-in-Hastings-town-centre idea, and remind others of the same mind-set that it’s a good idea to notice when planning departments come up with GOOD ideas.

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