Controversial Eastbourne housing scheme rejected by town planners

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Revised proposals for a controversial housing scheme in Eastbourne have been rejected by town planners, writes Local Democracy Reporter Huw Oxburgh.

On Tuesday (March 26),  planners rejected an application seeking outline planning permission to build six houses on an overgrown plot of land to the rear of Wood Winton – a large house off Silverdale Road in Meads.

Planners rejected similar proposals for seven houses in December, on the grounds it would harm the surrounding area by overdeveloping the site. This came after another previous application for nine houses was rejected last year.

While planning officers said the revised plans had ‘overcome’ the previous reasons for refusal, the committee remained unhappy with the tight spaces of the proposed access road.

Committee chairman Jim Murray said: “One of my comments on the previous application was that the seventh property right next to [Wood Winton] was an overdevelopment.

“The fact the applicant has removed that I am pleased about, but he doesn’t seem to have listened to anything else though.

“Normally with an access road like this I would be concerned about construction traffic, but with this particular road I think we are going to always going to have problems there.

“As it stands at the moment, I am not happy with it. For access reasons, for fire reasons, for the narrow road coming up into it and the fact Wood Winton is creating that pinch point.”

However Cllr Murray also cautioned residents that, as there is an existing planning permission for the site, there would be building there at some point in the future.

He also said he felt six houses would be ‘an appropriate number’ for the site, but would require improvements to the layout and access arrangements.  

Both previous schemes had proven to be controversial with Meads residents, and the latest application is no exception.

Planners received 27 letters of objection from residents as well as a formal objection by the Meads Community Association (MCA).

These objections were voiced during the meeting by MCA chairman Dennis Scard.

The committee also heard representations against the proposals from neighbour Graham Dole and ward councillor Robert Smart (Con. – Meads).

Mr Scard said: “Councillors who visited the site saw for themselves that the access to the development is restricted with a long, uphill, winding driveway.

“The entrance to Wood Winton, off of Silverdale Road, will remain extremely narrow because of the boundary walls on both sides.

“Emergency vehicles, particularly fire service vehicles, will have major difficulties  in accessing the development, as will refuse and recycling vehicles.

“The reduction of one house in this resubmitted application does not suddenly make this proposal acceptable.”

However the committee also heard arguments in favour from Robert Whiteman, a planning agent speaking on behalf of the developer.

Mr Whiteman said: “The proposals meet with the requirements and policies as described in the officer’s report.

“All of the objections raised in previous applications have been addressed by the current proposals – and this is acknowledged in the report.

“I would urge the committee to support the officer’s recommendation for approval.”

Mr Whiteman also argued that the access arrangements had been agreed by East Sussex Highways as the responsible authority.

Despite Mr Whiteman’s arguments the committee unanimously decided to reject the application.

Its official conclusion is, it was not satisfied the properties could be adequately accommodated on the site without causing harm to the character of the wider area.

This would be in the form of a cramped overdevelopment of the site with poor access arrangements, the committee concluded.