OUT IN THE FIELD: Common sense is not so common

Looking good: The East Beach Hotel
Looking good: The East Beach Hotel

I have always been very envious of planning officers and members of the planning committee who are, in my opinion, the guardians of our heritage in Eastbourne. They have power to protect lovely Victorian buildings, stop ugly monstrosities going up and take enforcement action against unauthorised development. But in the case of the East Beach Hotel on the seafront, where planning officers want to see new PVC windows – installed in place of rotting wooden sash types – removed, there needs to be some modicum of common sense. I find myself agreeing with Eastbourne Hospitality Association which makes several valid points; not least that seafront properties – facing increasingly strong weather – are key to the success of our tourism economy and must be fit for purpose. Add to that there seems to be no policy that prohibits PVC windows in a conservation area; only guidelines directed at truly historic buildings of unique character. The East Beach, although very attractive, does not have such a high status. It’s also said the hotel appears on a “local list of protected properties” created in 2014 which the association says it has never seen and questions the weight and legality of. So do I and I also share concerns there has been complete inconsistency over recent years from planners in relation to PVC windows and the council appears to have allowed a number within the conservation area. Hotel owner Heidi Cowderoy needed to take action urgently: the windows were getting so bad there was little choice and the cost of wooden windows is six times higher than PVC. There comes a time when such factors have to take precedence over having “wooden framed windows just because our Victorian forefathers made them” and the average tourist does not study with a fine toothcomb each individual window from the outside. The tourist who stays wants to be able to open the windows with ease. In my opinion the East Beach Hotel has never looked better.

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