St Leonards nature reserve under threat from development plans, say campaigners

Environmental campaigners have express concern over plans to build industrial units, which they say will threaten wildlife habitats in the area.

Monday, 8th February 2021, 12:47 pm
Marline Valley. Picture from Seachangewatch SUS-210802-123619001

Sea Change Sussex is proposing to build 4,000sqm of units on North Queensway Innovation Park in St Leonards.

The site is next to the Marline Valley nature reserve and Site of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI).

Natural England has expressed ‘considerable concerns’ over the plans.

It wrote to Hastings Borough Council’s planning department in December and said: “The development of Queensway North is a significant risk to the SSSI’s interest features as the developments disrupt the hydrological regime by removing and altering existing permeable areas and introducing pollution risks.”

Sea Change has been granted £3.5m from the Getting Building Fund to build the units.

Andrea Needham, co-ordinator of Seachangewatch, an organisation campaigners have set up to monitor Sea Change Sussex’s activities, said: “Sea Change has failed for six years to find tenants for North Queensway, and now has got another £3.5m of public money for a project which could do irreparable harm to Marline Valley.

“I trust that HBC’s planning committee will turn down this destructive plan.”

A Sea Change Sussex spokesman said: “We’re proposing to develop 4,000m2 of industrial units on the North Queensway Innovation Park to create modern premises to support local businesses and job creation and provide a much-needed boost to the area’s economy.

“The scheme builds on Hastings’ strong manufacturing base and is designed to help local companies to expand and start up, taking advantage of the area’s skilled workforce.

“Before submitting a planning application, we’ve been going through an initial phase of consultation with various authorities and received responses from Natural England and other bodies.

“From subsequent, more detailed survey work, we’re fully confident we can address Natural England’s concerns, including the potential impact of development on the SSSI, ancient woodland and sandstone layer.

“This is a cleared development site and these matters have been addressed on previous planning applications.

“The planning application we’re now preparing for the North Queensway Innovation Park will take full account of the issues raised and we trust our scheme will be recognised as an important initiative to boost local businesses and jobs and help the town’s post-COVID recovery.”

* Got a story? Ring reporters Richard Gladstone on 07803 505794 or Stephen Wynn-Davies on 07393 754494.

A message from the Editor, Gary Shipton:

In order for us to continue to provide high quality and trusted local news, I am asking you to please purchase a copy of our newspapers.

With the coronavirus lockdown having a major impact on many of our local valued advertisers - and consequently the advertising that we receive - we are more reliant than ever on you helping us to provide you with news and information by buying a copy of our newspapers.

Our journalists are highly trained and our content is independently regulated by IPSO to some of the most rigorous standards in the world. But being your eyes and ears comes at a price. So we need your support more than ever to buy our newspapers during this crisis.

Stay safe, and best wishes.