SeaChange’s application for planning permission for its North Queensway site contains not only the controversial business park, but also a car showroom:

Business park development to deliver business units consisting of 4010m² of light industrial/ manufacturing units (use classes E/B2), 490m² of bespoke space for a local employer, and the renewal of planning permissions HS/FA/16/00330 & HS/FA/18/00761 for car showrooms (1215 sqm).

In the way of the Queensway Gateway

The car showroom is a replacement premises for Bartletts SEAT, which is bang on the route of the never-to-be-finished Queensway Gateway road (QGR). Until the showroom moves, SeaChange can’t finish the road.

QGR looking east

Members of the planning committee will be well aware of this, and will be under some pressure to agree the application in order that Bartletts can finally move, and the QGR can be completed. They may feel that despite the ‘considerable concerns’ of Natural England over the risk of pollution of Marline Valley SSSI, and the objection to the project from Sussex Wildlife Trust, which leases Marline from Hastings Borough Council, they should nonetheless grant permission if only to get the QGR moving.

Impossible to refuse?

What the planning committee may not be aware of – although we will do our best to make them aware – is that SeaChange is engaged in extremely machiavellian politics here. By rolling the car showroom into the wider application, SeaChange is hoping it will be impossible to refuse.

What SeaChange doesn’t say is that it already has planning permission for the car showroom. There is absolutely no need for it to be part of this planning application – except to put pressure on the planning committee to pass it.

Planning permission granted twice already…

SeaChange has in fact been granted permission for the car showroom twice already. It was first granted permission in 2016. That permission has now lapsed because SeaChange did not start work within the required three years of it being granted. However, SeaChange applied for planning permission again in 2018 – essentially the same application except that the floorspace had increased from 555m2 to 669m2. That second application was passed in January 2019.

…and still valid

The decision document states that work has to begin on the site within three years – that is, by January 2022. Unlike with many grants of planning permission, there are no pre-development requirements to fulfil before the work proper can begin – essentially, the permission document simply states that SeaChange should do what it said it would do in the planning application.

Machiavellian scheming

So the situation is this. SeaChange have planning permission for the car showroom. They could start building it tomorrow, and as long as they do a minimal amount of work, the permission will be valid beyond January 2022. There is absolutely no reason for the car showroom to be included in the planning application for the wider business park.

No reason, that is, except SeaChange’s machiavellian scheming. We are calling on the planning committee to reject the application as it stands, and make it clear to SeaChange that it will not be considered until the car showroom element is removed, and it is submitted as a stand-alone development which can be considered purely on its own merits. Will the planning committee do this, or will they roll over as they always do with SeaChange? Watch this space.

If you haven’t objected to the planning application, there’s still time. See this blogpost for how to do it and draft objection.