Eastbourne church flats plan rejected

St Elisabeth's
St Elisabeth's

DEVELOPERS who wanted to convert St Elisabeth’s Church in Old Town into flats have had their plans turned down by a Government inspector.

Earlier this month, the planning inspector agreed with Eastbourne Borough Council and told developers Hope Construction and Developments the refurbishment cannot take place.

Now, the listed building, which was built in the 1930s and used as a church until 2002, may have to be demolished if a more sympathetic scheme is not forthcoming.

The plans to convert the disused building into apartments and extending the roof caused outrage among residents in Victoria Drive, Baldwin Avenue and other neighbouring streets when they were first mooted and were turned down by borough planners.

The developers appealed and planning inspector David Prentis announced his decision earlier this month.

He said he did not feel the redevelopment would be overbearing for nearby residents but did say the internal and external alterations would ‘substantially harm’ the building and the proposed roof extension – which the developers say is essential for the refurbishment to be financially viable – unsympathetic to the design of the church, prominent and seen from a wide area.

Mr Prentis said, “The proposal would be harmful to the character and appearance of the area and contrary to policies which seek to maintain local distinctiveness and protect visual amenity.”

The Church Commissioners originally exchanged contracts for the sale of the church and the parsonage with HOP Construction subject to the granting of the planning permission and listed building consent for the residential conversion.