Revised plans for a new care home in Eastbourne have been agreed in principle by councillors.
On Tuesday (September 24), Eastbourne Borough Council’s planning committee considered a controversial application to build an 80-bed facility at 282 Kings Drive.
The discussions followed on an earlier meeting where the committee directed council officers to negotiate changes in light of concerns over the size and scale of the original proposals.
While the revised scheme saw some significant changes – including a size reduction from 85-beds and a repositioning of the whole building – for some committee members the redesign did not go far enough.
Planning committee member Cllr Jane Lamb said: “I would like to recognise the significant and creative modifications, which have been made to the plan in the short period of time since it last came to committee.
“But some of the issues which persuaded me to vote against it last time are still relevant.
“Taking into account all of those issues and also the fact developers have worked really hard to improve it, I still think there are imponderables here that there is very little chance of doing anything about.”
Cllr Lamb’s specific concerns included the building on green land, the change of use from residential to commercial, the impact of the design on the surrounding area and the potential for flooding on the site.
Similar concerns had been raised by fellow committee member Colin Murdoch and ward councillor Colin Belsey.
Cllrs Belsey and Murdoch also both raised concerns about the scheme’s impact on traffic and parking, with particular fears raised over the safety of school children walking along Park Lane should it become an overspill parking area for the care home.
Other committee members, however, felt differently about the scheme, arguing the changes had addressed their previous concerns.
Cllr Robin Maxted (Lib Dem, Upperton) said: “I think this is a good example of developers taking on board objections and things raised within the committee, then going back and thinking about it.
“From the last meeting, two of the major concerns was the proposed building being in front of the existing building line and the height, specifically in relation to 284 [Kings Drive].
“I do believe developers have taken this on board and have come up with an acceptable proposal.”
Cllr Maxted also argued that the parking available was considered sufficient by East Sussex Highways and said he thought the traffic impact would not be significant due to the shift pattern of care homes.
Following some discussion the proposals were approved in principle by five votes to three, with Conservative councillors Jane Lamb, Paul Metcalfe and Colin Murdoch voting against.
The decision does not mean the application has been approved, as further details of the revised scheme (including amended technical drawings) will need to be put out for further public consultation.
If no new issues are raised during this consultation, then the application can be approved under delegated powers by planning committee chairman Jim Murray (Lib Dem, Hampden Park).
If new issues are raised, however, then the application will be brought back to the planning committee for further debate.
This situation met with exasperation from some in the public gallery, with one resident saying they were “back to square one.”
Cllr Belsey, meanwhile, raised criticism of the overall decision. Speaking after the meeting, he said: “I am very worried that issues raised by those of us who were opposed to this application were not taken seriously.
“I am afraid that Ratton School pupils will be put at risk by cars parking in Park Lane. This scheme is an overdevelopment in this area.”