An historic and prominent building in Seaford which has stood vacant for several years will be converted into flats.
This week Lewes District Council’s planning committee gave developers the green light to turn the Drill Hall in Broad Street into 12 apartments.
However the council stipulated that the scheme should not include parking spaces at the back, because of the problems this would cause for the garage, which backs on to the access lane, a narrow track leading off Clinton Lane.
The committee was divided about how to address the parking problem, debating allowing the scheme to go ahead with the proposed seven parking spaces.
Councillors finally settled on granting permission on the condition there was no parking and that the area of land at the back was turned into a landscaped communal garden.
The developer Mr N Moffet will now be allowed to turn the Drill Hall into eight two-bedroom apartments spread over two floors, two two-bedroom flats and two one-bedroom flats.
It was granted planning permission subject to the parking spaces being replaced by a communal garden at the planning meeting at County Hall on Wednesday May 15.
Speaking at the meeting, Nigel Wood, who runs the neighbouring garage, said: “I like the plans and I’m very pleased the Drill Hall has got someone who is going to do something with it, but I’m concerned about the rear access and the parking.
“To have more cars in this area will be very difficult.”
Some councillors raised concerns about the impact the development would have on parking in this part of Seaford, where they said parking was almost impossible.
However other councillors pointed out that in big cities residents did not expect to be able to park right outside their home and would think nothing of having to walk a mile to get to their cars.
Planning officers also pointed out the development was close to town centre shops and public transport links.
Cllr Bob Allen (Seaford South, L.Dem) said: “They would expect to have a car to go further afield. That would increase the parking problem.”
Cllr Sam Adeniji (Seaford South, Con) added: “I welcome the redevelopment of the Drill Hall.
“I think it will improve the street scene in Seaford. My concern is that parking in that part of town is very difficult and parking in the surrounding area is very difficult as well.”
But cllr Peter Gardiner (Ouse Valley and Ringmer, L.Dem) said: “Whilst it’s absolutely right that parking in the centre of town is difficult, you don’t have to go that far to find parking spaces.
“While it may be a bit of a way for some in Seaford, if you live in London or a city it wouldn’t be that far.”
And cllr Jim Shepphard (Newick, Con) said: “I think the problem is access. If you try and have your business there with cars going back and forwards it’s too narrow.
“I would say do away with the parking spaces.”
Developers and investors Neil Moffett, Chris Goodman and Ralph Gilbert, said: “We are delighted that planning has been approved.
“The building had fallen into disrepair over a number of years.
“We intend to bring it back to its former glory, and in doing so provide 12 new modern apartments.
“Having lived in Seaford all my life, I’m pleased to be involved in resurrecting such an iconic local building.”
seaford mp norman baker said:
“I am glad that after many years of cajoling from me, the MoD is finally doing something with the Drill Hall which has been left empty for far too many years.
“Personally I would have preferred the building to have been kept for community use, but at least the years of neglect are over.”
The Drill hall has been used for a variety of functions since it was built, including as a concert hall for the Seaford Choral Society back in 1929. It was sold by the MoD and was previously used by the Sussex Army Cadet Force for training and meetings.