Multi-million pound development plan for former Eastbourne school site

Progress is being made towards the development of a former boarding school in Eastbourne.

Moira House in Carlisle Road, which was taken over by the Roedean Group and closed its doors in August 2020, was sold for a circa of £8 million to a property developer last year.

In April James Taylor, the developer, and Jo Saady from Ecotecture, the architect, set up a site meeting with representatives of the Eastbourne Society, the Meads Community Association and members of the Council’s Conservation Area Advisory Group.

A pre-application meeting with the council has already gone ahead, and next Mr Taylor will have to submit a full planning application.

Roedean Moira House School (Photo by Jon Rigby) SUS-201203-092934008

The meeting revealed to the community groups that Mr Taylor has long-standing family connections with Eastbourne, and Ecotecture is based in Haywards Heath.

My Taylor said, “Eastbourne is such an amazing town, it’s been home to my family in one way or another since the 1930s, mum and dad still live there and I plan to make Eastbourne my home again in the near future.

“When my brother told me Moira House was closing we all thought it was very sad. I had heard the headmaster, teachers and families of the pupils had done everything they could to keep the school open but unfortunately the situation became unviable.

“It’s such a beautiful site bordering the South Downs National Park, views of the coast and sitting in a prominent position within a residential area of Eastbourne that everyone cares about greatly.

Roedean Moira House School (Photo by Jon Rigby) SUS-201203-093324008

“My business partner and I immediately recognised the necessity to conserve the buildings which are hugely important historically and architecturally.

“We reached out to Jo Saady, an amazing architect with huge experience in heritage and ecological design. We wanted the design to represent forward thinking conservation, preserving the existing buildings whilst making them as close to carbon neutral as possible.

“Being able to masterplan a site of this importance in my hometown was a dream come true, myself and my business partner were determined to secure the site as soon as the decision was made to offer the buildings for development.”

Representing Meads Matters Dennis Scard said, “The meeting gave us the opportunity to hear their ideas and, more importantly, for us to provide feedback on the type and style of homes that we feel would fit into this part of Meads.”

Mr Taylor told the group the three original school buildings – Dunn House, Boston House and Moira House – would be converted into apartments, and the newer structures would be replaced with large family houses.

Terri Rintoul, a spokesperson for Eastbourne Society, said they were told the scheme will be ‘as eco-friendly as possible’ with maximum off-street parking too.

Mr Taylor said, “I am passionate about design and public consultation, we are very forward thinking regarding reaching out to community groups, neighbours and the local planning and conservation departments.

“To be honest I was overwhelmed with how supportive, welcoming and open-minded the local community and the community groups of Eastbourne have been.

It’s very clear to us that everyone sees this site as being hugely important and we are determined to deliver a high quality scheme that Eastbourne will be proud of.

“It’s such an exciting time for Eastbourne, there is so much positive change, many new independent businesses springing up and the exciting news about the possibility of Eastbourne benefiting from the Levelling up Fund.

“It’s a privilege to have the opportunity to support Eastbourne as a town, a development of this scale will create jobs and a total investment of somewhere in excess of £35 million which will make a valuable contribution to Eastbourne’s economy.”

Full plans are expected to be submitted later this summer when there should be an open exhibition held for the public to view the development plans and give feedback.

A date for this exhibition is yet to be decided.