Concerns were raised at the recent Crowborough Community Association’s Annual General Meeting about dangers from the adjacent building development.
The fear is because the parking area on top of a bank directly above the main hall has no barriers, there is a risk of cars plunging down the slope and into the building.
Anger was also expressed at the way water ran off the building site into the Community Centre’s car park, bringing with it mud which has blocked drains and caused huge puddles.
Responding to questions, Facilities Director Clive Wilson said:
The Crowborough Community Association is so disappointed at how little understanding there has been of the Community Centre’s concerns about the Abbey development. We tried so hard, right from the beginning, to get a compromise development with Wealden District Council and its planning officers which would be less harmful to the centre but no-one wanted to listen.
We are now particularly worried about the steep bank between the Community Centre and the parking at the top with nothing to stop cars tumbling over. Also, we knew all along that the drainage proposals for the site would mean water would run off the development site and flood the community centre car park. We tried so hard to get a proper drainage scheme put in place but it fell on deaf ears.
We also tried to discuss the details of the landscaping scheme with Wealden before it was approved but, again, no-one was willing to support this. Now have a completely inadequate scheme which will do nothing to screen the development in any meaningful way. Soil has been put on top of builder’s waste and rubble and I doubt if anything will grow successfully in that.
Wealden District Council said in response to objections raised, a number of adjustments to the Abbey Homes scheme were made at the development stage. These included the adjustment of the extent of development on the shared boundary with the Crowborough Community Association land and community centre.
A spokesperson for Wealden District Council said:
The scheme includes landscaping and boundary treatments to divide the boundary, which were approved at planning stage, and takes into account the difference in levels between the two sites. These will be evident upon completion of the scheme.
Drainage details on the site have been approved with expert input from Southern Water and East Sussex County Council Local Lead Flood Authority. In addition, the scheme incorporates a system which intercepts surface water and holds it in underground stores before releasing it at a controlled rate. This will be a great improvement to the current situation.
At the Annual General Meeting (AGM) on 25th August, Mr Wilson also pointed out that Wealden had received some £440,000 in Community Infrastructure Levy and were also the major beneficiaries of the £4 million-plus from the sale of the land. He said the Crowborough Community Centre had tried very hard to persuade Wealden to pay or contribute to the cost of surfacing a few extra spaces in the Community Centre car park but that this had been refused “point blank”.
He felt strongly that on the issues raised by members at the AGM Weaden District Council had been “uncaring and dismissive” and that the Community Centre had not been
“looked after as it should have been” by Wealden councillors and officers.
The only good news is that we have been told that work on the pedestrian crossing on Pine Grove, linking the Community Centre to the town’s main car park, will start on 8th September.
The land on which the new housing scheme is now being built by Abbey New Homes was previously owned by Wealden District Council and East Sussex County Council, and both were beneficiaries from the sale. A spokesperson for Wealden District Council said:
As a gesture of goodwill, the land on which the Community centre stands was in fact sold for just £1, thus not realising the market value.
Wealden District Council funded 29 parking spaces on land to the east of Pine Grove in the Croft Road car park. The Council also included additional car parking spaces next to the CCA hall within their planning application, meaning the CCA did not have to pay the planning fee. Officers at the Council also worked with them to ensure improved access ways and signage to help people get from the free car park to the CCA facility.
As a Council we have shown ongoing commitment to the Crowborough Community Centre. Throughout we have endeavoured to work with the trustees to deliver this facility and support its ongoing success as a valuable resource for Wealden residents. It continues to be disappointing that Mr Wilson‘s comments do not acknowledge or recognise this.
Abbey New Homes were contacted before the article was published to invite them to comment.