Controversial Eastbourne housing scheme approved at appeal

Access to the site from Silverdale Road (photo from Google Maps Street View)
Access to the site from Silverdale Road (photo from Google Maps Street View)

A decision to refuse a controversial housing scheme in Eastbourne has been overturned by the planning inspectorate. 

In March, Eastbourne Borough Council’s planning committee 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.

The application was refused at the time due to concerns around access to the site and the development’s size and character and its impact on the surrounding area.

This view was not shared by the planning inspector, however. In their written report, the planning inspector said: “Taking into account the secluded position of the site and the presence of trees and other foliage which afford a degree of screening from local views, I do not consider the land is fundamentally important to the form and character of the Meads or the street scene. 

“Clearly, design and layout matters would be important considerations for any subsequent reserved matters application. 

“However, on balance, I conclude that the erection of six dwellings, in principle, would not materially detract from the character and appearance of the area.”

The planning inspector’s report also dismissed the council’s concerns around access to the site, arguing that no objections had been raised by East Sussex Highways. 

A number of other concerns, mostly raised by local residents, were also considered by the inspector’s report.

These included: loss of trees from the site; its proximity to the Meads conservation area; and noise and disturbance from building work.  None would be grounds for refusal, the inspector found.

The inspector also said its decision had been swayed in favour by Eastbourne’s “significant five-year housing land supply shortfall”.

The result of the appeal was discussed at a meeting of the council’s planning committee on Tuesday (September 24). 

During the meeting Meads councillor Jane Lamb (Con) asked officers for comment on concerns raised by her residents.

She said: “Some of the residents in Meads have come to members of planning [committee] and asked for specific clarification about the issues the inspector referred to in terms of the errors in the original proposal. 

“I’m not sure this is an appropriate venue for that but if I could speak privately [with officers] afterwards.

“I certainly know that the Meads Community Association are concerned as local residents, which is why I bring it up.”

In reply, officers confirmed they would speak with Cllr Lamb about the details of her concerns and said they would take legal advice if there was ‘an oversight’ which may have  affected the planning inspector’s decision.

However, committee chairman Jim Murray was less concerned about the decision. He said: “If you were to look at the plot as a normal plot you would say that is quite a reasonable development. 

“My concerns were that corner, it being so close to the actual house and the access road into it, which is where we laid most of our concerns. 

“We were trying to force their hand really to try and get them to do something about it, but if you look at it on the whole then I don’t think the inspector was far off.”