An Eastbourne hotelier who installed new modern windows without planning permission has been told to reinstate the old ones by a planning inspector.
The East Beach Hotel on the seafront has been embroiled in a controversial row with Eastbourne Borough Council since it replaced its traditional wooden sash windows with UPVC ones.
The hotel’s owners appealed against the planning committee’s decision to enforce them to reinstall wooden windows, but yesterday (Thursday, December 15) a planning inspector dismissed the appeal and upheld the council’s notice, with corrections.
Owner Heidi Cowderoy said, “It’s a personal kick in the face to me. It’s a very sad day.
“The seafront is a mess. It doesn’t make it right but I don’t think my hotel stands out like an eyesore like some.
“People say they haven’t even noticed the difference.”
She continued, “I didn’t wake up one day and change my windows. I asked around, no one else at other hotels had got in trouble for it.
“Why are the council picking on me? Why am I being singled out?
“Will I be here next year? I don’t know.
“I haven’t got a clue what I’m going to do. It’s a nightmare.”
Mrs Cowderoy, who has owned the hotel for 12 years, said, “We painted the windows every two years and it still looked bad.
“I didn’t have the money to pay for the windows in the first place, or the appeal.
“It’s been paid for out of my emergency money, not hotel funds.
“When we have guests in the room with glass falling out the windows, then it’s important. It’s a necessity.”
Referring to the sudden closure of the White Knight Laundry, she said, “If a laundry company can’t be in business what does that say about a tourist town?
“How many businesses do they want to go bust?”
A spokesperson for Eastbourne Borough Council said, “Whilst we are pleased that the planning inspector has dismissed the appeal and endorsed the council’s decision to take enforcement action, it is regrettable that the matter ever reached this stage.
“Eastbourne Borough Council’s planning department always encourages property owners to seek advice from the council prior to undertaking alterations to buildings.
“This is particularly important where the changes, adaptations or building work being considered are in a conservation area or similarly sensitive part of the town.
“The inspector was also clear that the council had interpreted national policy and the local development plan accurately and did not act unreasonably.
“As the local planning authority, the council has great responsibility for maintaining the integrity of the town’s historic environment and will take appropriate action when the necessary permissions are not in place.”
Dave Brachtvogel, chairman of Eastbourne Hospitality Association, which has supported the hotel in its appeal, said, “The Association is extremely disappointed with the decision of the Planning Inspectorate.
“The Inspectorate has sided with the council and has placed the preservation of wooden framed windows and doors, which are extremely expensive to replace and maintain, above that of encouraging the tourism industry to invest in more sustainable material.
“Our members will find this decision very difficult to respect and unless the council retracts and desists on its harsh stance we fear that this could be a death nail in the town’s tourism industry.
“With increased business rates, the national living wage, pension regulations, the increased commissions of online travel agents and the continual fall in room rates in this town, our members will not be able to maintain their properties which will inevitably mean the decline in accommodation standards.
“It is indeed a sad day for Eastbourne and sends a negative message to those we hope to attract to invest.”