Homes at former Eastbourne chalk quarry approved

Proposals to build housing within a former Eastbourne chalk quarry have been approved after returning to planners for a second hearing.

Wednesday, 24th March 2021, 12:03 pm

On Tuesday (March 23), Eastbourne Borough Council’s planning committee approved an outline application seeking permission to build 18 houses at the former Ocklynge Chalk Pit in Willingdon Road. 

The scheme, put forward by landowners East Sussex College, had previously been considered by the committee last month, but was deferred for councillors to visit the site and seek greater information about the potential ecological impact of development. 

While the committee reached a majority decision in favour of granting planning permission, this view was not shared by all on the committee, with several councillors expressing concerns about whether the site would be suitable for housing at all. 

Possible site layout

Cllr Barry Taylor (Con, Meads) said: “My problem is we are only considering today whether we think it is suitable for housing; to change from a chalkpit to [a place] for people to live in. 

“The trouble is what you’re missing out is the environment itself. In my view, I still feel that during the winter time it will be oppressive with no sun, but during the summer time the leaves will be out on the trees and it will be nothing like the site visit we saw. 

“It really does concern me that we are tonight considering people to live there in a very oppressive place, in a chalkpit. It is probably ideal for an industrial [use] in some way.

“But to put people living in 18 houses down there, well I certainly wouldn’t live down there and quite frankly I don’t believe any member of this committee would consider living down there.”

Others felt differently, however, with most committee members arguing in favour of granting planning permission. 

Speaking in favour of the scheme, Cllr Robin Maxted (Lib Dem, Upperton) said: “It obviously is an ex-chalkpit, but it hardly deserves the title of pit or ‘down there’. I was pleasantly surprised that it wasn’t that deep.”

He added: “I thought it was ideal for development and it would be ideal for housing. I certainly wouldn’t have a problem living in that area.

“The road access is absolutely fine and I certainly don’t have any problems with it.”

Following further discussion the scheme was granted outline planning permission with five votes in favour and three against.

The application had only sought in-principle approval to build houses on the site, with all technical details reserved for a later date.

Despite this, the application includes some indicative designs for the sorts of properties which could be built. 

These indicative designs show the buildings – a mix of one, two and three-bedroom townhouses – backing on to the steep sides of the quarry. The designs show these buildings laid out in trio terraces of varying heights, with rooftop gardens and terraces.

This part of the proposals have seen some words of caution from officers, however, as they consider there would be a potential for overlooking and a loss of privacy. But as an indicative design, officers said these concerns would not be grounds for refusal of the outline scheme as more detailed plans would come forward at a later stage.

Details of the affordable housing provision would also be a reserved matter, although officers say the development would be expected to provide seven affordable homes on-site as well as a financial contribution to works elsewhere. 

The land also already has two derelict cottages on its outskirts. The applicant said these could be retained and renovated as part of the development, bringing the total number of dwellings on the site to 20. The potential renovations do not form part of the outline application, however.

For further information on the proposals see application reference 200855 on the Eastbourne Borough Council planning website.