AFTER years of controversy, changes have once again been made to plans to build homes on the site of a former landmark building in Uckfield. St Michael’s Convent, now razed to the ground, was built in the late 19th century and served as a school and later an agricultural college.
The building later became a home to Catholic Sisters from the Convent of Mercy but their numbers had decreased making the maintenance of the building untenable, according to owners.
Local people joined forces to try and save the building but an attempt to have it listed failed and it was pulled down. Various schemes were put forward for the site and the latest aims to demolish three more houses and build 14 new homes. The houses to go are St Michael’s Lodge, Glastonbury and St Gregory’s which have been empty for more than three years and are now derelict.
Proposals for 11 five and three four bedroom homes submitted – and withdrawn last year – have now been overtaken by a new submission. This is for 14 new homes; six five-bedroom detached; three four-bedroom detached; three two-bedroom terraced and two three-bedroom terraced homes. The biggest of the new houses would face Newtown and be sited in Old Timbers Lane. The terraced houses would be where St Gregory’s house is now.
The application is being submitted by site owners the Trustees of the Roman Catholic Diocese of Arundel and Brighton. The Trustees also own St Philip’s Church, St Philips Primary School and nearby playing fields.
The building’s history is bound up with the 20th century history of Uckfield. Canadian soldiers and the RAF were billeted there until 1945 when the Sisters took possession and organised extensive refurbishment and repairs. It had become a much-loved architectural feature for Uckfield people and was an easily identifiable landmark from the rising land to the north and south of the town. There was a furore when the announcement was made that the building must go.
This week Uckfield town councillors formally objected to the plan.