St. Leonards — The Oval Playing Fields – Don’t Concrete The Convent

The  Convent Chapel, seen from the Oval Playing Fields

Open space, one of the attractions of St. Leonards-on-Sea. In the south-east of St. Leonards you will find the Oval Playing Fields, between Bohemia Road, Falaise Road, St. Margaret’s Road and Magdalen Road. This area is also called The Convent.

This Convent is the first Roman Catholic female institution in Great Britain since the Reformation — the life’s work of Cornelia Connelly (born in Philadelphia on 15 January 1809, died in St. Leonards on 18 April 1879), who is internationally renowned, and reportedly on course for sainthood.

Today this is a private international school.

There is an ancient underground corridor from the convent (right) to the school, to keep the girls dry when it was raining.

Large private gardens and other greenspaces can make a useful contribution to the townscape of an area — and should be protected from development which would prejudice the open nature of such areas.
Although Hastings and St Leonards have an abundance of empty property — there are over 3000 privately owned empty homes in Hastings and St Leonards, and of these, approximately 1600 have been empty for 6 months or more — there are plans to build 7-story apartment buildings on the site. A bloody shame.

Basket ball field

Many thousands of visitors come to Hastings every year.  Those leaving the Museum and Art Gallery in John’s Place, Lower Bohemia, get an admirable sense of the town in the view across the upper Convent grounds to the streetscape that is upper Magdalen Road including the front of St Thomas’s church.  To build blocks of flats and houses here (many with sawtooth roofs) would contravene the HLP and policy DG8.

Skate boarding

The Convent is to go from being essentially uninhabited (except in high summer) to a crowded estate with major traffic intersections on Magdalen Road.  In the plain sense of the term this is a change of use.
Similarly the Council offers assurances to residents about encroaching institutional nuisance, as around HLP par 7.89.
Equally, the Borough Council wishes to safeguard the amenities of immediate neighbours and will not therefore permit such a use where it is considered that it would cause undue noise and disturbance.

Fancy Fair

The planned development means two new turnings for motor traffic in a short stretch of Magdalen Road (which has just had a new turning added in the same stretch and on the same side, at Star of the Sea School).
The increased traffic will compete with the emergency service vehicles on their designated route, and the already considerable school-run traffic twice a day.  Additionally there will be light pollution, air pollution and noise pollution.  The street nuisance (such as litter) will be considerable.  Despite the hundreds of parking spaces, parking overspill is a certainty and will infest the local streets.  The loss of wildlife will be marked.

Dear Hastings and St. Leonards Council

Don’t concrete the convent. It deserves better than this overdevelopment.  Nearly 500 bedrooms means hundreds of people and hundreds of parking spaces, for no good reason.  The whole site is in a Conservation Area, so why is the site being developed anyway?  Blocks of ugly flats have nothing to do with the history and character of this area.  The Council is in breach of its own Local Plan.

Renewing the old buildings is fine, but the density of the new scheme on the Convent grounds is unacceptable.  Cramming 7-storey blocks of flats onto the site does not harmonise with Victorian housing.  There are already enough long-term empty properties in town to house all these proposed new residents and more.

For years the planners and developers have poured concrete all over the Borough, and been allowed to.  Hastings and St. Leonards get abused as a result, its Victorian charm steadily relentlessly eroded.  Refer to your Policy C1c) on preserving space.  (The present local candidates for the House of Commons have acknowledged problems in the planning process, whatever the tension between private ownership and public benefit.)

All of the convent is in a Conservation Area:  save the spaces before saving the ‘Pugin’ chapel.  The proposal is somebody’s nice little earner that would scar the town.  Don’t approve it.

Read the Hastings Planning and Heritage Watchdog

About Jack Vanderwyk

Hey! What am I like! :-)
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One Response to St. Leonards — The Oval Playing Fields – Don’t Concrete The Convent

  1. Laura Collins says:

    I quite agree. Use to live in Magdalen Road and this would be a travesty!

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