Old Natwest Bank, Seaside, Eastbourne. 30/1/13
Old Natwest Bank, Seaside, Eastbourne. 30/1/13

Anger is mounting over plans to convert a former bank into a drop-in centre for problem children and their families.

A bid has been put in to convert the former Natwest Bank in Seaside on the corner of St Aubyns Road into a hub to support families overcome emerging needs and past traumas.

But hoteliers and residents living in neighbouring roads say the building is in the heart of guest house land, not suitable for the proposed purpose for tourism and could lead to anti social behaviour problems in what is primarily a tourist area.

Service provider Fegans is behind the conversion plans and says its ethos is to provide emotional, physical and spiritual support to children and their families.

Colin Povey from the organisation said, “We have been based in Heathfield for some years but the vision has been to move and create our main base in Eastbourne, specifically to the needy area of the Devonshire ward.”

The services Fegans provides include counselling and therapy, parenting courses, coaching and family support, mediation and supervised contact.

Mr Povey added, “Our services are designed to help families overcome emerging needs and past traumas, resolve difficulties and function positively, creating emotionally healthy and mutually supportive relationships.

The organisation wants to open from 8am up until 9.30pm Monday to Friday and on Saturday mornings.

But complaints have flooded into the council from people living in St Aubyns Road and Seaside and the matter will now have to go before Eastbourne Borough Council’s planning committee for a decision to be made.

Among the objectors is Gwen White who runs the five star Loriston Guest House in St Aubyns Road.

She said, “There are around 10 guest houses and numerous business in this area very close to the proposed site. This is not a needy area.

“We have all spent time and money trying to make this a nice area to live and I truly believe this is not the area for what this site is to be used for. I feel the two will not mix.

“Eastbourne relies on tourism so the council should please keep this in mind when they make a decision as I think it can only have a negative affect.”

Her feelings were echoed by Adrian McCartney, also from St Aubyns, who said the area could not cope with anymore parking as it is already bad enough for residents.

He also objects to what he calls the proposed unreasonable opening hours as well as noise and potential abusive behaviour and vandalism.

The owners of Boyne House Guest House in St Aubyns Road are also objecting and say, “Being an owner of a guest house, situated within a road of many, this proposed plan is ludicrous.

“Eastbourne relies on tourists. Being that this area is densely populated with tourists and guest houses that have been thriving for many years, it could only have a negative effect. St Aubyns Road and surrounding roads already have parking issues and also I am sure my guests will not appreciate the additional noise and people loitering on the corner during the proposed hours it will be open. Eastbourne is not a needy area and perhaps this should be better situated in an area that this.”

A spokesperson at Eastbourne Borough Council’s planning committee said because the application – to change the use of the former bank from financial use to an institution – had attracted more than six objections the matter would be considered by the planning committee in the spring.