Weds 17 November 2021
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Photo: Local residents rally to save Marline Valley, Aug 2021 https://bit.ly/3qHwenK
Over 130 people call on ESCC council leader to pull plug on ‘destructive’ £3.5m SeaChange Sussex project
Project has failed to meet the funding deadline set by Keith Glazier’s committee
133 people from Hastings and other parts of East Sussex have written to Councillor Keith Glazier, leader of East Sussex County Council (ESCC), asking him to vote to withdraw funding from SeaChange Sussex’s controversial North Queensway business park project .
The project was granted £3.5m in funding by the South East Local Enterprise Partnership (SELEP) in October 2020 and was supposed to be finished by October 2021 . However, following numerous delays, SELEP decided in September 2021 that if planning permission was not secured by 19 November 2021, funding would be withdrawn . The project was not on Hastings Borough Council’s planning committee agenda for November, so there is no possibility that planning permission will be secured in time to meet the deadline.
Glazier sits on the Accountability Board of SELEP which will be asked to decide on Friday 19 November whether funding for the project should be withdrawn and allocated to another project.
Given that funding conditions cannot possibly now be met by SeaChange Sussex, opponents of the scheme assumed that funding would be withdrawn. However, in the agenda pack for Friday’s Accountability Board meeting, there appears to be a suggestion that funding will continue if the project is able to secure planning permission by 31 December, leaving open the possibility that permission might be secured at the HBC planning committee meeting on 8 December .
The North Queensway project is for a 4,000m2 business park next to Marline Valley nature reserve and SSSI in Hastings. The development is opposed by Marline Wood leasee Sussex Wildlife Trust  whilst Natural England has expressed ‘considerable concerns’ about the application . Natural England has also said that there should be no units built on plot 2.1, nearest Marline Valley, because of the risk of runoff of pollutants into the site of special scientific interest (SSSI). SeaChange Sussex has rejected this, saying in its business case for the development that building less than the full 4,000m2 of units ‘would significantlydiminish the returns to [SeaChange Sussex] that it expects from its investment in the project and so a reduced project option has been discounted’ .
Seachangewatch co-ordinator Andrea Needham said, ‘SELEP made it very clear that if SeaChange failed to secure planning permission by 19 November, funding would be withdrawn. SeaChange did not secure planning permission in time and therefore SELEP should follow through on its decision and withdraw the funding. Now, presumably as a result of lobbying by SeaChange, we find that the goalposts may have been moved, possibly giving SeaChange until 31 December to secure planning permision. Councillor Glazier voted in September to withdraw funding for this project if conditions were not met by 19 November. 133 local people have written to him to demand he withdraw funding, showing the strength of feeling locally about this destructive project. It is not to late to save Marline Valley, and we expect Keith Glazier to do the right thing.’
 https://seachangewatch.files.wordpress.com/2021/11/accountability-board-nov-2021.pdf – p113, point 7.12
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