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ASDA consultation at St Matthews Church Hall

ASDA consultation at St Matthews Church Hall

Local residents showed their opposition to the proposed new ASDA at Silverhill at a lively meeting on 26th September, held in St. Matthew’s Church Hall. Increased parking problems and traffic congestion, together with the effect on local shops, were major concerns. Matthew Lock, lead member of Regeneration & Planning, and Tim Cookson, Borough Planning Officer, spoke to an audience of about fifty, including the two councillors for Silverhill, Bruce Dowling and Stephen Springthorpe. The purpose of the meeting, organised by the St. Matthew’s Gardens Res-idents Association, was to get information out to residents so they can build their case. Tim Cookson described what the Planning Committee has to take into consideration when dealing with planning applications. ASDA still have not applied for planning permission, so there is time for objectors to have their say.
Giving tips on how to write letters opposing the scheme, Matthew Lock warned objectors, “Don’t do it from the heart – do it with reference to the official document; the Hastings Local Plan. The planning officers will make their decision with a cool head, based on hard facts.” He pointed out that if they received ten petitions saying “We don’t want ASDA”, they would only look at one, but if there was, for example, one petition on traffic, one petition on local shops and one on the immediate physical impact of the building, these petitions would all have to be looked at separately. 
Councillor Stephen Springthorpe said that he has leafleted Silverhill on several topics and that 90% of local people are against ASDA. He fears that the coming of ASDA could mean the destruction of the local community. Bruce Dowling said that talking to Silverhill residents, he has found that the majority are opposed to it, and that there is widespread concern over the impact ASDA will have on local shops.
Several Silverhill shops have set up petitions. At the time of writing, SRN News had about 240 signatures against ASDA, the Co-op had about 150, and P.A. Fisher, the butcher, had over 80. All this casts grave doubt over ASDA’s claims that over 73% of local people are in favour of the scheme, claims which are viewed with scepticism by objectors.
The meeting grew very heated over the subjects of traffic congestion and parking. Tim Cookson said that ASDA will have done research into traffic as it exists at the moment, and they will use computers to simulate the effect with the extra traffic which will be generated. “The County Council will be quizzing ASDA, and will be looking at how the traffic structure may change.”

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