Residents are opposed to new visitor centre

17/2/10- The Firehills Country Park, Hastings.
17/2/10- The Firehills Country Park, Hastings.

Plans for a new visitor centre at Fairlight have been approved by planners despite strong objection.

Hastings Borough Council’s planning committee gave the scheme the go-ahead on Wednesday (March 4).

The centre, which would cost £400,000, will be based in Lower Coastguard Lane, Fairlight, within Hastings Country Park.

The application, submitted by the council, includes an amphitheatre, a small shop and refreshments area, storage, plant room and a large space for exhibitions and education purposes.

However, the council received 50 letters of objection from residents unhappy with the scheme.

Objectors said they were worried about overlooking, light and noise pollution and increased traffic.

Jill Howell, from Fairlight, said: “This is totally inappropriate for our wonderful nature reserve which should be seen as a place of tranquillity and beauty, not as a cash cow for the council.”

Richard Paine said: “I object most strongly to the Disneyfication of our country park and the erection of a building in an area of outstanding beauty.”

Anna Newington, of Hastings, said: “Undisturbed peace and quiet in nature is so rare that it must be safeguarded.

“It is a luxury to be able to watch the stars at night without light pollution or coach parties.”

Maggie Alderson said: “I don’t see the need for any kind of visitor centre in the country park. The whole point of it is to provide an area that is undeveloped in which to enjoy fresh air, calm and peace.

“Why bring such an urban concept into a gloriously natural reserve?”

Councillor Michael Wincott said: “This is a good centre in the right place and that’s why we should accept it.”