Scheme to replace Eastbourne garages with new homes approved

Controversial proposals for a housing scheme in Eastbourne have been approved by council planners. 

Thursday, 27th May 2021, 11:38 am

On Wednesday (May 26), Eastbourne Borough Council’s planning committee approved outline proposals to demolish a group of garages behind a home in Broomfield Street and build eight new houses in its place. 

The application followed on from a previous version of the scheme, which was refused in December last year on the grounds it would result in an “unneighbourly, oppressive and overly dominant relationship” with surrounding properties. 

While the scheme had seen some revisions from those earlier proposals, local residents argued the changes did little to reverse their major concerns with the scheme. 

Aerial view of the proposed development site off Broomfield Street

Among those to object to the scheme was Coronation Street actor and Longland Road resident Jim Whelan, who spoke on behalf of a number of residents at the meeting.

He said: “This proposal has caused real fear locally. Residents have already submitted two petitions with a total of 350 signatures. We have also had submitted more than 100 letters for the two schemes. By any standard this level of objection shows a deep and widespread concern.

“We understand the council has a responsibility to identify land for sustainable houses. We are not naive, we know that people have to have somewhere to live and we know that houses have to be built and had there been any social housing involved in this I would not have objected. 

“There have been many different reasons given [against] the development of this site, but the most important one is that this site cannot be built without overlooking 40 houses that surround it.

“By definition any proposal that has such a damaging affect upon the neighbours’ quality of life would not qualify in our opinion as a suitable candidate for sustainable housing.” 

While there had been significant local objections, the scheme had been recommended for approval by planning officers, largely on the grounds it was considered a sustainable and previously-developed site.

This was relevant, officers said, because the council lacks a five-year supply of housing land and, as a result, there is a ‘presumption in favour’ of development as long as there are no ‘material planning reasons’ for refusing it.

These material reasons appeared to be something the committee was unable to find as the scheme was hesitantly approved.

Committee chairman Jim Murray said: “This is the problem we have as a planning committee now. If we were going back four or five years we would have room for manoeuvre but the government is putting such pressure on planning committees now to build, build, build.

“If we don’t, we get in serious trouble, so we have to try and focus on the material reasons for anything we can do to change any of these. 

“The officers have worked very hard behind the scenes to change the design to suit everything we asked for at the last meeting. They have reduced the roof height, they are not going to get permitted development for loft conversions, they have taken out the roof lights, they have lost one of the houses, they have widened the road. 

“There hasn’t been anything that has come up this evening which has changed the view of myself about any material reasons why we could refuse it.”

For further details of the proposals see planning reference 210108 on the Eastbourne Borough Council website.