Amended proposals to convert a former Eastbourne care home into shared housing have been given the go ahead by planners this week.
On Tuesday (July 23), Eastbourne Borough Council’s planning committee granted developers planning permission to convert the former Tredegar Care Home in Upper Avenue into a 14-bedroom HMO (house in multiple occupation).
The committee unanimously approved the scheme, saying developers had gone a long way to address concerns raised at a previous meeting.
Cllr Peter Diplock (Lib Dem, Old Town) said: “I’m encouraged by the changes made to the scheme. I think the reduction in the occupancy is encouraging and I think the provision of accommodation for an on-site manager is encouraging.
“For me this is kind of a test case with HMOs, so I will be interested in seeing how this one comes on.”
The meeting marked the second time the application had been before the committee, having been deferred at a meeting last month due to councillors’ concerns.
In light of these concerns, the committee asked officers to negotiate a reduction in the maximum number of residents, the inclusion of dedicated manager’s accommodation and provision of a communal living room for occupants.
The applicant agreed to the amendments and revised plans have been received by the council.
The changes have resulted in the loss of three-double occupancy rooms, and together with the extra change of two double-occupancy rooms to single occupancy, the maximum occupancy would be down to 26 people, a reduction of eight compared to the previous plans.
But for neighbour Peter Green the alterations did not go far enough. Addressing the committee before it made its decision, he said: “What is proposed here is really quite a big change. From being a care home to being a HMO with a large number of people.
“At the last meeting it was also suggested that most of the rooms should be single [occupancy], when in fact most are double.
“Those of us who live there are concerned about privacy and noise. We feel that there should be a proper plan in place to make sure that there aren’t any problems or, at least, any problems can be mitigated by a properly trained manager.”
Mr Green added that he would like to see the maximum number of residents reduced again.
In response, council officers confirmed a property management scheme would be included as part of the agreed planning conditions.
The committee also heard from the applicant Naveed Ali, who said: “I would like to start with comments raised by councillors at the last meeting. We have no intention, first of all, of bringing tenants in from London or other parts of the country.
“Our HMO would we rented out to young working people looking for quality accommodation at a reasonable price.
“At the moment, 31.4 per cent of the population of Eastbourne is under 30 years of age and there are many young people looking for quality accommodation. Plus there is an overspill from Brighton where rents are astronomically high.
“The property has been vacant for more than four years, with constant break-ins and vandalism and dumping on site. The neighbours and the property is more at risk in the state it is at the moment.”
Following further discussion, the committee unanimously approved the application.