Residents ‘bitterly unhappy’ at plan to turn Eastbourne GP surgery into 19-bed house share

Eastbourne residents say plans for a doctor’s surgery to become a 19-bed house share are ‘entirely inappropriate’.

Tuesday, 23rd February 2021, 3:43 pm

Enys Road Surgery may soon become a 19-bed house of multiple occupation if plans submitted to Eastbourne Borough Council are approved.

But residents are unhappy as a management statement released this week showed it would be managed by a team which operated the controversial Lynwood Hotel in Jevington Gardens.

According to plans, the two three-storey terraced properties, which have functioned as the surgery for many years, could be converted into 19 new en-suite living units if given the go-ahead which could result in up to 33 new residents moving in.

Enys Road Surgery in Eastbourne SUS-210202-122334001

A design and access document from Park Avenue Homes Ltd says the HMO plans would ‘provide much needed accommodation for those starting out’ and could make a real difference to people who can’t afford full independent living.

On February 22, three days before the deadline for comments from the general public, a management statement was released in to the public domain giving more information on the plans.

Since information around the HMO has been released, a group of residents has formed to voice their opinions against the plans.

Resident Marie Madigasekera, who called the house share a ‘ghetto type development’, said, “The developer should have provided a statement earlier on the use of the type of HMO it will be and how it will be managed. This has been very late in coming and providing transparency to local residents. Consultation has been poor.”

The statement says the housing units would target small family groups - either a couple or a single parent and child. By looking at accommodating these groups, the developers hope to gather a ‘more responsible group of residents rather than single individuals with no social ties’.

Another resident, David Elliot, said, “Placing children/families/couples in such cramped accommodation that provides one kitchen and little to no social areas is abhorrent and will inevitably result in conflict, social issues and bring inequalities and deprivation to this neighbourhood. It will provide no end of problems to a quiet, family neighbourhood.”

The management statement says there will be an on-site team to manage the property 24/7 and avoid any issues for neighbours. Developers say they intend to do this by ‘controlling the behaviour of residents through strict rules’ with a four-strike policy for rule-breaking in place. CCTV cameras and a secure entrance door will also be introduced, according to the document.

Andre Darabi, who has managed the Lynwood Hotel and The Saffron in Eastbourne, is the proposed management team leader for the site.

Residents have been very vocal about the development with lots of comments being left in response to the plans on the council website.

David and Victoria Gordon, who live in the area, said introducing an HMO of ‘such a high density of occupation in a quiet residential area’ would have ‘a significant detrimental effect’ on the neighbourhood through an increase in noise pollution, general disturbance and car movements.

Rather than offering this site for the HMO plans, the pair suggested that ‘acres of empty hotel and guest house accommodation could easily be converted to provide safer options’. Carol Jelly also suggested turning the site into private flats would be a better idea.

Mr and Mrs Gordon also said a development of that size with no outdoor space attached means residents will ‘spill out’ onto the road and back lane.

Resident Michael Oxley said the plans would have an ‘unwelcome effect’ on the area which already has an issue with parking and ‘something of a drug problem’ and as a result, the plans ‘will do nothing to maintain or enhance the area’. He also pointed out HMOs often provide ‘half way houses’ for prisoners - a prospect that concerns him and many other residents.

He said, “It is the wrong development, in the wrong place and will almost certainly attract the wrong type of tenant for this area.”

Another resident John Silverton said, “The residential area of Upperton is entirely inappropriate.”

Neighbour Jane Cooper said, “I urge the council to look at the reaction to this overcrowded, fire hazard of a project with no suitable outside space and lanes at the back of the houses and across from the front of it. The existing residents are bitterly unhappy about it and fear noise disturbance, littering, a steep rise in crime and drug dealing and a detrimental effect upon the area.”

Toby Quanstrom, who has lived in the area for 20 years, said, “There is a nearby park where alcoholics and drugs addicts congregate late at night, making it unsafe for people to pass through at certain times. I have seen vast improvements made to reduce this, however I feel this would be taking multiple steps backwards.”

A spokesperson for the campaign group set up by the residents said, “Eastbourne Borough Council has a responsibility for creating and sustaining healthy community neighbourhoods and protecting them within the context of people, communities and the environment.

“The Upperton community has a great sense of pride, understanding and commitment to ensuring that the conservation area is protected and provides the best health and environmental outcomes for all of its people.

“The Upperton residents feel that people should be at the heart of decision making, or else why consult with them at all. Like any resident anywhere, we know our area best and have its best interests in mind. Bad developments can have a really negative impact on people’s physical and mental health and we do not believe that this application will provide good outcomes for local residents as well as those expected to reside in the HMO.

“The Upperton area is to be protected, celebrated and to last the test of time. It is part of Eastbourne’s historical and architectural legacy.”

Members of the public can comment on the plans until February 25.