Approval of Hastings Football Stadium and 86 residence development

On Wednesday June 1, Hastings Borough Council’s planning committee cleared a request from Hastings United Football Club to build a 1,950 capacity stadium on the playing fields at Tilekiln, along with a sports hall, a parking and two 3G pitches.

During the same meeting, the committee also approved a preliminary application to build up to 86 new homes on the current grounds of The Pilot Field – Hastings United.

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Although they were considered separately, the committee heard the claims were deeply linked as the housing project’s permission was based on replacement land, while the club said construction of the new stadium requires revenue from housing development.

Aerial impression of the proposed new football stadium

Both schemes met with a significant number of objections – due to concerns about their respective impacts on surrounding areas – but were approved as recommended by planning officers.

Even so, the granting of planning permission does not guarantee that developments will actually be built.

Going forward, plans will require Hastings Borough Council to sell land to Hastings United. This sale of land had already been approved in principle by the cabinet of the council, but this offer was canceled in March, the council citing a desire to maintain Tilekiln Playing Fields as an open public space.

At the time, Hastings Borough Council said the club had submitted the bids “although there were outstanding issues to be resolved before they could commit to the sale”. This is disputed by the club, who claim the board encouraged them to file the nominations while the legal mechanisms were being worked out.

The club, which claims to have spent more than £200,000 on the claims, said it was considering taking legal action and seeking judicial review against the board.

In any case, land ownership is not necessary to obtain a building permit and therefore the committee had to make its decision without considering these issues.

During the meeting, however, the club’s general manager, Billy Wood, was asked why the request had come up at the time.

He said: “This planning request and this process has been a long-term affair for the football club. He deserved to be heard and we believe that the project is worth it for our city.

“Go out and make a statement, like he [council leader Paul Barnett] done, before the planning meeting; it’s like that. But we believe that this should be understood as a planning situation and that the decision should be taken as a planning situation.

“From this moment we can collectively make a decision on how we move forward, but at least we will know where we are on the planning that we have been waiting for for a very long time.”

For more information on the two separate proposals, see applications HS/OA/20/00673 and HS/FA/20/00669 on the Hastings Borough Council planning portal website.

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