|Combe Haven Valley with one of many felled trees.|
Today I had a walk around Combe Haven and the site where the new road is to be developed. Even on a cold, frosty winters day it was stunning, tranquil, not much sound except the birds and the chainsaws slicing through the ancient trees that they would be resting in.
I only recently heard of the proposed road development even though I've lived in Hastings for ten years and take an interest in what goes on in this beautiful region. I feel that if I had fully understood the proposals I would liked to have had the opportunity to discuss alternatives. As well as other ways £100m could be spent to regenerate the area.
I am from Scotland originally and on visits back there I have been very impressed with the many developments to green spaces that are happening. One I visited recently is Mugdock Country Park. http://www.mugdock-country-park.org.uk/. There is a visitor centre, events all year round, workshops, rangers who visit local schools to help with the Government funded Eco Schools campaign http://www.ecoschoolsscotland.org/. But the most stunning thing is the miles of uninterrupted countryside, lakes and marsh land. Scotland's beautiful landscapes are world famous and bring in a huge number of tourists. This is another very exciting development: http://www.thehelix.co.uk/
I noticed that the area where the trees have started to be cut down is where the old Crowhurst to Bexhill rail link used to be. I read with interest the history of the rail closures under the 1963 Conservative Government. I was thinking that this old railway line would have made a perfect cycle path with the trees either side creating shade on a hot sunny day (which we are very lucky to have plenty of down here). It could have linked to the new cycle path that goes from Hastings to Glyne Gap and would have been a lovely ride through an unspoilt, unique landscape up to Crowhurst pub and Crowhurst community farm shop. It would be a safe, gentle cycle path that families and inexperienced cyclists could use. Many people these days are looking for holidays where they can exercise and enjoy some peace and relaxation and I think Bexhill with the Delawarr and the lovely new seafront, the new children's playground and improved cycling and recreational facilities could provide this and would be a big attraction. It would be great to see a heritage site here with educational facilities as I read that an archeologist claims that the world famous battle of Hastings was not at Battle but was very close to or on the route of the Bexhill to Hastings Link Road. There is nothing like this anywhere in the region.
In my time living in Hastings I have noticed that an issue that people struggle with is the long train journey to London. I know a lot of mothers who cope with children on their own most of the week while their husbands go up to London for work and stay there because the commute is too long. It is known that the fast train to London from Brighton boosted local economy and house prices shot up.I have heard rumours that there might be a fast train link. Is this something that will ever happen?
I don't drive and as a family we only recently got our first car. So for the past ten years I have been using public transport. I had to get two buses to get from my home to Glyne Gap swimming pool when my son was young. I preferred to go there because the water was too cold at the Hastings pool. A train station at Glyne Gap would have been so handy for me as I live near to Ore Station. If I'd had this option I would have used it. Also the bus that takes me from town to my home comes only once an hour. I had to time everything carefully. If I missed it I had to walk up to the West hill pushing the buggy with all the extra swimming things; quite a steep climb. It's so much nicer having the car to get about to these places now but if I had the option I would use public transport and cycle as much as possible. Are there any plans to improve public transport in Hastings and Bexhill?
I'm really saddened that the beautiful area I visited today is going to have a road and housing and another retail park. I'm concerned that this will be competition for businesses already existing in Hastings and St. Leonards, especially the town centres. I have noticed there are some empty shops in Hastings and St. Leonards as it is. And some new shops and cafes struggle and don't last long. Also, there already is a large retail park at Glyne Gap, Bexhill. I noticed that the bowling alley recently closed there. Since Bexhill has a mostly elderly population I was wondering who would work in the proposed new retail development? Or are you hoping people will drive there from Hastings?
Finally, I wanted to let you know about another issue that is affecting life for myself and a number of others; there are problems at Bembrook playground, off Old London Road, Hastings, with dogs running about off leads, being thrown down the slide and biting the flying fox. Many children have become terrified of dogs because of their experience of having a dog run up to them there. I have seen children develop phobias because of it. Also my dog was attacked by a dangerous breed there but was lucky just to have his ear punctured. A number of mums, myself included, complained about this. It is used by parents and children of Dudley, Sacred Heart and Castledown Infant Schools. It can get quite busy once school comes out on a nice day and this is when the frightening incidents with dogs have occurred. Also, one little girl wandered by a couple who were injecting drugs on a bench at the time the schools come out and the mother had to run after her. I have seen drug paraphernalia lying around as well as broken glass. This is another lovely big green space that many people worry could have discarded needles etc. I and a few others have written asking for help for the problems here. We were visited by a Ranger who said he didn't have resources to monitor what goes on, that there were only a few Rangers and they were already busy with Hastings Country Park. This is a shame as it's a job that's clearly needed. I really hope a child isn't injured. It would be nice to be able to visit this playground without so many frightening incidents, hostile encounters and dangerous situations. Is this something that you take seriously and if so can you give me a solution?
I work as a freelance illustrator for one of the UK's best-selling children's magazines. I also volunteer at my son's school helping the children with gardening projects and am applying for funding to help the school make better use of their outdoor space and to encourage outdoor learning. I also helped renovate a local Community Centre garden and with Ecominds funding set up a gardening group for people with mental health support needs. Amongst the many benefits, we were helping people who were long term unemployed feel confident enough to go back to work. I have a great interest in horticultural therapy.
And I have a blog here where I am going to write about Coombe Haven and show the photos I took there today: www.thegreenladyhastings.blogspot.com
The Green Lady