End in sight for Eastbourne planning dispute over hotel’s new windows

East Beach hotel, Eastbourne pictured in 2014
East Beach hotel, Eastbourne pictured in 2014

The end could be in sight for a long-running planning dispute over the windows of an Eastbourne hotel, an advisory committee heard this week.

A fresh application to replace windows at the East Beach Hotel in Royal Parade with new uPVC frames was considered by Eastbourne Borough Council’s Conservation Area Advisory Committee on Tuesday (November 26).

East Beach Hotel Eastbourne in 2016

East Beach Hotel Eastbourne in 2016

The application comes after owner Heidi Cowderoy was refused retrospective planning permission in 2015 to replace the hotel’s original timber windows.

Speaking at the meeting, conservation officer Chris Connelley said Ms Cowderoy had been working with the council to reach a compromise agreement on the new application.

He said: “Permission is sought for a change from tilt and turn [uPVC windows] to uPVC sliding sash, but really what we are looking at is what we do to address the windows that were put in without permission.

“It is fair to say we have been in conversation with the property owner and her building company for the last seven or eight weeks. We’ve been talking about the decision.

“Our concern clearly is that the character and appearance of the conservation area is not adversely affected from the original timber window situation.

“Our preference is for timber windows to go back in, however conversations have been had over the past week where reference has been made to almost an elite set of uPVC windows, which it is argued are of such similarity to timber that it isn’t possible to differentiate.”

If these high-grade windows were put forward, Mr Connelley said, the work would be acceptable in conservation terms.  However, he also said the materials as presented did not reach this standard and recommended further discussions between the parties.

Mr Connelley said: “Our feeling is that this window isn’t quite there but we are in conversation with the property owner and are very happy to move that discussion closer towards an acceptable outcome.”

The committee also heard representations from Ms Cowderoy, who said she originally put in tilt and turn windows in place to improve the security and safety of guests.

She said:  “I asked all the other hoteliers who had changed windows if they had planning permission and the answer was no. I didn’t recklessly think one day ‘I’m just going to change it’.

“I’m in a position where I have had recourse and I’m now just trying to find a solution out of this.

“The company I’m trying to use to come up with a solution seem very amiable to change design specifications to get it looking more and more and more how the conservation team want them to look. I am quite happy to work with the team to get a suitable result.”  

Ms Cowderoy added that the hotel’s rating on TripAdvisor had significantly improved following the renovation.

After hearing from Mr Connelley and Ms Cowderory, the committee resolved that, while the scheme as presented would not enhance or preserve the conservation area, it would be happy for discussions to continue between the hotel owner and officers.

Commenting on the decision, committee chairman Pat Rodohan (Lib Dem. Upperton) said: “I would prefer timber but if you could find a solution where it looks like-for-like, then I think I could be moved to support it.

“That said, I don’t think we are there yet. That to me is too chunky and doesn’t look like-for-like with what was there.

“I am afraid I cannot support [the application] but I feel confident that, in working with conservation officers, a solution will be found.”