Major Eastbourne housing plans deferred over access concerns

Proposed housing layout
Proposed housing layout

Plans for a major housing development in Eastbourne have been deferred by town planners after hearing concerns about access.

On Tuesday (October 22), Eastbourne Borough Council’s planning committee considered an outline application to build a 35-home development at the former Woods Cottages site off of Langney Rise. 

While the application had been recommended for approval, committee members chose to defer making a decision after hearing concerns around plans to access the site through Swanley Close.

Speakers included Swanley Close resident Keith Woods, who said: “I’m not here to object to the housing, although I do feel there is a bit of overdevelopment here. 

“I am here to object to the access and use of Swanley Close. Currently there are 11 houses [most] of which have two cars. Swanley Close copes with that level of traffic, apart from at peak times when it can get a bit congested but overall it’s not too bad.

“But I think with the addition of the proposed development of 35 homes in the real world people have two cars with each used pretty much every day.” 

He suggested Swanley Close would not be able to cope with the extra level of traffic generated by the new homes.

Mr Woods raised particular concerns about the fire service accessing the proposed site, citing an incident with a fire at the long-vacant (and since demolished) Woods Cottages.  During the fire, Mr Woods said, firefighters had to run a hose from halfway down Swanley Close as they could not get further up the road. 

East Sussex County Council Highways had also initially raised concerns about access but following amended proposals from developers had withdrawn their concerns subject to conditions.

Residents’ concerns hit home with the committee, however, who asked whether officers may be able to work with the developer to find alternative access arrangements.

Cllr Paul Metcalfe (Con, Sovereign) said: “I think this is quite an exciting development actually where it is. I’m quite surprised and very pleased to hear the two speakers not object to the development but just comment on the access. 

“I think it must be in our power somewhere to push the officers to have a much closer look at how this access problem can be resolved, because if the residents in the area are not objecting then I can only see this as being an ideal situation.”

Development of the site (which has an existing planning permission for 10 homes) would involve the in-filling of a pond dug during its former life as a brickworks – leading to concerns around the potential ecological impact on wildlife.

However, planning officers say this issue can be overcome should sufficient mitigation measures be taken. This would include the creation of a fenced-off wildlife area with a new flood attenuation pond.

In all the proposed scheme would be comprised of 11 flats, 19 three-bedroom houses and five four-bedroom houses.

Of these, developers say they would be able to provide five three-bedroom houses as affordable housing. 

While this falls below the national target, planning officers say the number would be negotiated as part of any Section 106 legal agreement.

For further details see application reference 190339 on the Eastbourne Borough Council planning website.