Hastings Direct site in Bexhill. SUS-210921-110457001

This is what Bexhill Chamber of Commerce wants built on the Hastings Direct site - and why it thinks it would be good for the town

Plans to convert the Hastings Direct offices in Bexhill into apartments have come under fire.

Monday, 27th September 2021, 1:55 pm
Updated Monday, 27th September 2021, 2:23 pm

Developer Paramount Land and Development has made an application to Rother District Council to convert Conquest House in Collington Avenue into 86 apartments. 

However, the proposals have been criticised by Bexhill Chamber of Commerce which said there was no demand for this kind of housing and the opportunity should be taken to do something bold with the site and build a new architecturally interesting building with leisure and hotel facilities.

It revealed its hope that it should be a ‘People’s Palace’ -  similar in ambition to that which inspired the De La Warr Pavilion.

A spokesman said:  “There is no local demand for this kind of high density, high rise living. While these conversions of tired old office blocks work in inner cities where there is need for the mass provision of social housing or student accommodation, where flats smaller than static caravans, as proposed in these plans, may well be in demand, they are completely unsuitable for Bexhill. Conquest House and its surrounding land is one of the most valuable brownfield development sites in our area that has always been, and should remain, a key employment location. But that doesn’t mean it should stay stuck in the past.

He added: “ If necessary, build up and down, go over the current six storeys and below the basement level, to accommodate everything we are currently denied. Swimming pools with chutes and waves, Olympic climbing walls, soft play, bowling alley, gyms, community spaces, restaurants, cafes and hotel facilities.”

The potential conversion has been controversial with some neighbours. 

The converted site would have 66 car parking spaces.  Objectors say this will be insufficient and put too much pressure on roads.

The developer disagreesand argues its location and parking nearby make it a suitable residential location.

In a transport statement submitted as part of the application, a spokesman for the developer said: “The site benefits from being located near to established bus and rail networks, which provide access to a range of destinations across the local area, as well as connections into central London. The site is also located in close proximity to good walking and cycling infrastructure.

“Together these characteristics ensure that the site is an acceptable location for residential development and that residents will be able to choose active modes of travel to access essential goods and services in favour or car use and ownership.

“The site is not located within a Controlled Parking Zone (CPZ), with many of the streets surrounding the site unrestricted. 

“The parking stress surveys have revealed that overnight, on weekday evenings and during the day on a Saturday, there is significant capacity on the streets surrounding the site.”

Some objectors have also raised concerns about overlooking and loss of privacy from people living in the flats.

Discussions had taken place between Hastings Direct and East Sussex College about moving to the college’s Station Plaza site in Hastings.  

However, Rebecca Conroy, CEO and principal of East Sussex College, said: “Exploratory discussions have taken place over the summer with Hastings Direct about a possible co-location at our Station Plaza site. The corporation considered the matter at a meeting last week and agreed not to take these negotiations forward as it didn’t fit with our core educational purpose.  We are here to serve our local communities and are proud of our contribution to the regional economy.”

A Hastings Direct spokesperson said: “We are reviewing a number of options for an alternative head office site in the local area and at this point no final decision has been made.”

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