Eastbourne war memorial plan suffers major setback

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Plans for a new memorial to the 174 people who died in wartime bombing raids on Eastbourne have suffered a major setback, say campaigners.

The memorial has been proposed by a specially formed charitable trust, and the location, forming part of the moat wall around the Wish Tower, received planning permission from Eastbourne Borough Council in April.

But the Eastbourne Civilian War Memorial Trust has now been told the memorial’s location conflicts with the new Wish Tower restaurant planned by the council and must be re-sited.

The trust was told of the conflict by the architects behind the restaurant design who are endeavouring to come up with an alternative proposal for the memorial.

To secure planning permission for the original proposal, the trust was required by Historic England to commission an archeological survey of the site, as well as drawings and illustrations.

A visual of the proposed memorial was to have formed the centrepiece of an appeal leaflet which had also been commissioned and was ready to be printed.

A spokesman for the trust said, “This is a major blow for the memorial project after 18 months of voluntary work by local architects Wendy and Tara Thomas to obtain Schedule Monument Consent and planning permission.

“We had been ready to launch a public appeal when we were told that the new restaurant effectively cuts across the site.

“In meetings with the council, and at the planning committee when permission was granted, we were given no indication of a possible conflict between our proposal and the restaurant. Had we had even a hint that that this was likely to happen, we would have held off.

“As it is we have spent a considerable sum on getting the project this far, and we do not have the resources to go back to square one and seek new permissions.

“We are therefore asking the council to take on responsibility for the memorial, and we will be happy to discuss the way forward.

“The original Wish Tower Cafe and Sun Lounge, which received substantial funding from the Foyle family, stood as a memorial to the town’s bombing victims.

When it was demolished by the council in 2012 a commitment was given that a new public memorial would be established. However, there had been no apparent efforts in this direction, hence our initiative.

“The only reference to the victims is an A3 list of those who died on the wall in a Town Hall corridor.”

A spokesperson at Eastbourne Borough Council said, “We have been working with the trust’s architects Ecotects to reconfigure the viewing feature within the memorial.

“A joint solution has been found that the council, Levitt Bernstein and Ecotects are very happy with, affording better views across to the South Downs.

“This will not delay the trust’s fundraising or timescale for the memorial.”

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