THE FATE of an Eastbourne landmark is resting with a government planning inspector.
The controversial plans to restore and redevelop St Elisabeth’s Church in Victoria Drive have been handed over to the government inspector who will decide within the next few weeks if the 76-year-old building can be converted into flats.
Eastbourne Borough Council planners turned down the plans for the derelict church in January saying it would be an over-development of the site and not be in harmony with the local area.
The refusal also came amid a backlash of opposition from residents living nearby, who say it is already a blot on the landscape and will be even more of an eyesore if it is converted into flats.
Developers Hop Construction and Developments want to convert the listed building into 25 apartments with an extension to the roof, convert the parsonage into three homes and build two new semi-detached houses behind it. After the planning committee refused permission for the plans in January, the company lodged an appeal with the planning inspector arguing the Church of England Church Commissioners, which owns the building, English Heritage and are all in agreement the plans are sympathetic and would save the building from being demolished.
The Church Commission says if the development does not get the green light, the building will have to be demolished.
The church building was closed for worship in July 2002 and has been disused ever since. The Church Commissioners 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.