Eastbourne residents stand up against ‘snowball of planning applications’

Eastbourne residents have clubbed together to fight against a planning application that has been submitted to develop on a plot of green space in their neighbourhood.

Thursday, 19th August 2021, 2:48 pm

The area in question is the Rodmill estate, where resident Michael Fields said ‘every available piece of land is being turned into housing’.

A planning application has been submitted by Zakaria Al-Qazi for a two-bed bungalow with detached garage on a piece of land at the intersection of Claxton Close and Pococks Road.

Resident Norman Russell said the area has ‘a number of very small plots of open space/community amenity’.

Residents of the Rodmill estate (Photo by Jon Rigby) SUS-210818-085319008

He said, “The space has been designated since the early 1960s as open space for the community being defined as a highway. It’s a lovely grassed and tree-lined area used by many including wildlife and appreciated by all the estate.

“In these times of stress, we need all the open space possible. If this gets approved all these plots of open space will get built on.”

The application has already gained more than 100 public comments and Councillor Colin Belsey of the Ratton ward has spoken out against the plans too.

Cllr Belsey said, “I totally oppose this application on various grounds, but, mainly this land was never meant for building on. As far as I am aware the land was left as green land and a sum of money was paid to the original Eastbourne Borough Council in the 1960s for the upkeep of said land.”

Councillor Colin Belsey (Photo by Jon Rigby) SUS-210818-085342008

Eastbourne Borough Council was approached about the nature of the land but could not give further details.

Cllr Belsey said, “There are about six pieces of land within the Rodmill estate and I expect that whoever bought these plots knows little about them. In fact I understand the buyer was not from our area, sounds a bit like land under the hammer.

“I would ask all local residents to object in writing to the planning department. I have sent mine in and have asked to speak on behalf of the residents when it comes to the meeting.”

On East Sussex County Council street maps the land is classed as ‘highway’ which means it is defined as ‘a way over which the public have a right to pass and repass and may or may not be publicly maintained’.

The proposed area (Photo by Jon Rigby) SUS-210818-085354008

A spokesperson for the county council said, “The land at the junction of Pococks Way and Claxton Close is classed as highway land.

“Highway often runs over land that is registered to a private owner. The owner of the land under the highway is not permitted to do anything with the land without removing the highway rights, as public highway rights overrule any private ownership.

“East Sussex Highways are aware that Eastbourne Borough Council have received a planning application for this site and have asked to be consulted on the application.”

Resident Peter Nightingale said, “The green spaces were left for the enjoyment of residents and not for further development. If permission were to be granted this would set a precedent and the remaining green spaces would soon disappear under concrete.”

An aerial diagram of the plot of land in question. Photo from Eastbourne Borough Council. SUS-211108-164857001

Michael Fields, another resident, said, “Human beings need greenery and open space as much as they need housing. This site is totally inappropriate for development - there are plenty of brownfield sites that should be used in preference.”

Steve Evans, who lives next to the proposed site, said, “This is a snowball of planning applications to concrete over our lovely 60-year-old nature reserves. They’re shoehorning it into a very small plot. It’s going to change the whole ambience of the area.”

Mr Evans said it took him years to track down a previous owner of the plot of land when a wall between his property and the land was in need of repair.

The wall was out of Mr Evans’ plot, meaning he could not fix the wall himself.

Since then, he said the land has appeared in auction a few times and consequently the ownership has changed.

Mr Evans said he’s been pleasantly surprised by the response from residents. He said, “The strength of feeling is outstanding.”

Members of the public can comment on this application until August 26.

View the application here: https://www.lewes-eastbourne.gov.uk/planning/application-summary/?RefType=APPPlanCase&KeyText=210498