Ecclesbourne Glen Statement (June 2014)
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Rocklands Caravan Site documents
A landslip in February 2014 occurred at the southern end of the caravan park, which revealed some unauthorised developments previously hidden from public view. As a result, a number of local people raised concerns about the granting of planning permission and enforcement procedures.
Because of these allegations, Hastings Borough Council appointed an independent expert, Tezel Bahcheli Ltd, to review and report upon the Council's planning procedures:
Tezel Bahcheli Ltd have now produced an addendum to the October report:
A Caravan Site Licence Compliance Audit was also undertaken by RH Environmental in August 2014:
Read the Press Release issued on Thursday, 23 October 2014.
Save Ecclesbourne Glen Responses:
- A summary document: Critique of the Bahcheli Report
- A detailed document: Detailed Comments on the Bahcheli Report
- An annotated copy of our submission document to Mrs Bahcheli showing areas omitted from her report: Bahcheli Report Cross Check Section 1 False statements, omissions and Process Failures on planning Applications
- Critique of the RH Environmental report
Ecclesbourne Glen Landslip and Rocklands Caravan Park statement: 04 June 2014
There has been much concern locally about the impact on Ecclesbourne Glen of the devastating landslip earlier this year and about work that has been, and is being, carried out at Rocklands Caravan Park. As a result, Hastings Borough Council commissioned a geotechnical survey from experts Coffey Geotechnics Limited:
The concerns that have been raised are about the landslip and its causes; the new building being erected at Rocklands; the works that have been undertaken over the years at the caravan park in relation to roadways, terracing and caravan bases; the erection of a store building on the caravan site; the drainage of the caravan site; the position regarding trees on the site; and the positioning of caravans on the site.
So far as the new building is concerned, it has been alleged that it has not been built in accordance with its planning permission
The new building does have planning permission, and the proper procedures were followed when it was granted. However, it has become clear that the building is not exactly in line with that permission so the council planners have required Rocklands to submit an amendment requesting permission for the enlargement of a balcony and the repositioning of a window. This has generated a substantial number of objections and so will be considered by our planning committee shortly.
It has been alleged that over a long period of time work has been carried out on the site including the creation of hard surfaced areas for car parking, and access roads, and ground works to create terracing and the provision of bases for caravans
Planning legislation permits development that is required by a licensed caravan site without the need for a separate planning application. In this case the site is licensed by Hastings Borough Council and the licence includes requirements to provide suitable access arrangements and other development on the site. The works to create car parks, roads and caravan bases would therefore be permitted.
There is a requirement in the license that the hard surfaced areas be properly drained, but this does not appear to be the case
The issue of drainage of the hard surfaced areas is being investigated.
It has also been said that a storage building has been erected on the site without planning permission
This is correct. The owners will now be required to seek planning permission to keep the building. As with all planning applications this will have to be considered on its merits. If permission is refused, the Council could then take enforcement action.
It has been alleged that the caravans do not have proper drainage facilities, particularly those at the lower level affected by the landslip
There is no obvious evidence to indicate that any pipes are leaking, the drains on the lower area run along the back and do not appear to have been affected by the land movement. There is no evidence to indicate that the caravan site has any problems with the disposal of sewage, although there does not appear to be any surface water management in place and this is being investigated.
Concerns have been raised because trees have been removed from the caravan park, contrary to planning conditions
The trees on the site are not protected by a tree preservation order and they are not in a conservation area. However, unusually, the conditions attached to the planning permissions, granted forty years ago, prevent any works ever being done to any trees on the site without written approval of the Council (these conditions normally only apply for a set period, say five years). Forty years on it is impossible to say reliably what trees from that period may or may not have been removed. A number of trees were lost in the recent landslip and it would not be appropriate to undertake tree planting on the lower, unstable, part of the site, because the earth is still liable to move. The landslip has meant that the lower part of the caravan park will be more visible for the foreseeable future. The site owners have been asked to prepare a landscaping scheme for the site to provide adequate screening again.
It has been alleged that eight caravans have been sited on the lower part of the site without the necessary planning permission
This is correct. The secluded location of the site means we have only recently become aware of these caravans. The landslip has left the lower part of the site unsafe and the caravans are currently in the process of being moved, so it will not be necessary to take any further action. It is the lower part of the caravan park that has become exposed as a result of the landslip, the upper part of the site is still quite well screened.? When the caravans are removed from the lower park of the site the caravan park will be much less visible from the Country Park.
This leaves the most serious allegation, that the developments undertaken on the caravan site, and the removal of trees, led directly or indirectly to the landslip in the glen
The engineers report commissioned by the Council is clear that the very wet meteorological conditions of the recent winters are most likely to have instigated the initial movement of the major landslip. Indeed the report believes that the landslip began in the Country Park and then extended up into the caravan park. The report judges that the development of the new build is very unlikely to have contributed to the land instability. However, the lack of a surface water management system will be investigated further.
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