Eastbourne residents disappointed after planners approve development

The Martello Field site in Sovereign Harbour SUS-160217-174257001

The Martello Field site in Sovereign Harbour SUS-160217-174257001

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Sovereign Harbour residents say they are ‘extremely disappointed’ with a decision to go ahead with a new housing development despite objections from several groups.

The plans - for 10 houses and 62 apartments built on land known as the Martello Field – were first given outline planning permission in 2013 with further details of the project given approval at a planning meeting on Tuesday (March 1).

Despite outline permission being granted, several residents groups from Sovereign Harbour had been calling on the council to rethink the development due to concerns over infrastructure and the loss of green space.

One of these groups, the Sovereign Harbour Residents Association, objected to the development due to concerns over infrastructure projects named in the Sovereign Harbour SPD (Supplementary Planning Document).

In a prepared statement, a spokesman for the association said, “The basis on which outline consent was granted for the remaining development sites was the Sovereign Harbour SPD.

“Residents gave support for 150 additional homes in the expectation that community facilities would be provided in return; in particular a community centre.

“The SPD was the basis for the public consultation on the outline application. An event which was attended by more than 500 residents, all of whom left with the firm expectation that a community centre would be provided prior to any residential development.”

Another opposition group, the Eastbourne Martello Field Campaign, says the development will deprive the residents of a popular dog-walking and recreational space.

A petition calling on the council to prevent development on the site gathered more than 560 signatures.

In an open letter to Eastbourne MP Caroline Ansell, campaign leader Geraldine Scudder, said, “We live in a highly built up area in Sovereign Harbour in Eastbourne and the council have just agreed planning for 72 dwellings against the community wishes who need this last small space for recreation because we have no other immediate area for a playground for children or adult exercise.

“Last night Eastbourne borough councillors only paid lip service by giving residents three minutes each to speak and answered no questions last night before agreeing the plans.”

Residents also wrote 67 letters of objection to the council ahead of the meeting raising fears about a number of issues including lack of parking, risk of flooding and fears for the future of the nearby Martello Tower.

Councillor Jim Murray, chairman of the Eastbourne Borough Council’s planning committee, said, “We look at each case on its own merits and we always try to take into account residents’ thoughts and the issues involved.

“But with the Government pushing for more and more development we have to provide more housing. We have to build 250 living spaces in the town each year and this project will help us to meet the target.

“Its always the case of trying to come to the best possible compromise and we think this project is a good compromise.”

As part of the project, the council will require developers to fund a refurbishment of the land around the Martello Tower and a review of parking concerns in the area.

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