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Press release: Hastings Greens call for full investigation of SeaChange Sussex

Press release

Hastings and Rye Green Party [1]

Monday 12 July 2021

Contact: 07565 967250

Image available: https://tinyurl.com/x225apxx. Greens protest North Queensway business park

HASTINGS GREENS CALL FOR FULL INVESTIGATION OF SEACHANGE SUSSEX

Regeneration company has ‘utterly failed on its own terms’, says councillor, as party calls for North Queensway planning application to be refused

Hastings Green Party (HGP) has called on Hastings Borough Council to properly scrutinise the work of regeneration company SeaChange Sussex, citing its many failed projects over the past decade. The party is also calling on HBC to refuse planning permission for SeaChange’s latest business park project.

SeaChange’s planning application [2] for a new business park at North Queensway has already attracted almost 200 objections [3], including from Green party councillor Julia Hilton [4].

In 2012, SeaChange received a £1.5m loan from the government’s Growing Places Fund for infrastructure on the site, promising to create 865 jobs [5]. SeaChange used the loan to build a short, dead-end, road at North Queensway, but was unable to attract any companies to build premises on the site. In October 2021, SeaChange was granted a further £3.5m [6] in funding (not a loan this time) from the government’s Getting Building Fund, to be used for ‘shovel-ready’ projects which could be completed within 18 months. In its business case for funding, SeaChange claimed that the project would create just 75 jobs [7] – 790 less than originally claimed.

Several other SeaChange projects have gone over budget, are late, or have not created the jobs promised. The Queensway Gateway road was granted planning permission in 2014, yet may not be finished until August 2023 [8] – nine years after being granted permission. The cost of the project has risen by 100%, with £2m of the extra funding needed being taken from the walking and cycling budget for Hastings and Bexhill [9].

Green Party councillor Julia Hilton said, “Since SeaChange Sussex was set up over a decade ago, there has been absolutely no scrutiny of the company by Hastings Borough Council. It has utterly failed on its own terms by repeatedly failing to deliver on its projects yet there is total silence from the three councils – Hastings, Rother and East Sussex – that sit on its board. Hastings Green Party is very concerned about the current planning application for a business park at North Queensway, which threatens Marline Valley nature reserve, will cause a net loss of biodiversity, and – in that the units will be heated with gas, and there is no practical way of getting to the site apart from driving – goes contrary to the council’s climate change plan. It is well past time that our local councils took a long hard look at this compay, rather than simply approving every project without question.”

Notes

[1] https://hastings.greenparty.org.uk/

[2] https://publicaccess.hastings.gov.uk/online-applications/applicationDetails.do?keyVal=_HSTBC_DCAPR_118379&activeTab=summary

[3] 149 objections on website (more being put on daily) plus 43 signatures on e-petition

[4] HBC councillor for Old Hastings, ESCC councillor for Old Hastings and Tressell

[5] https://seachangewatch.files.wordpress.com/2021/01/865-jobs-dec-2012.jpg

[6] https://www.southeastlep.com/our-delivery/getting-building-fund/ – the project is described here as ‘fast track business solutions for the Hastings manufacturing sector’

[7] https://seachangewatch.files.wordpress.com/2021/05/business-case-for-getting-building-fund-oct-2020.pdf – p11

[8] https://www.southeastlep.com/app/uploads/2020/10/SELEP-Accountability-Board-Agenda-Pack-12.03.2021-PUBLIC.pdf – p92 (project completion expected Jan 22 at earliest), p94 (point 5.6: completion could be delayed by 6 to 18 months)

[9] https://seachangewatch.wordpress.com/2018/03/22/2m-funding-cut-for-walking-and-cycling-to-fund-queensway-gateway-road-100-cost-increase/

Contact: 07565 967250

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