Public consultation shows off plans for former Eastbourne boarding school

A public exhibition is now open showcasing plans for a former boarding school in Eastbourne.
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Developer James Taylor and the architect Jo Saady 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.

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A pre-application meeting was then held with Eastbourne Borough Council and now there is an open exhibition for the public to view the development plans, meet the team, and give feedback.

Moira House public consultation. James Taylor and Jo Saady.Moira House public consultation. James Taylor and Jo Saady.
Moira House public consultation. James Taylor and Jo Saady.

The proposed plan is for the three original school buildings – Dunn House, Boston House and Moira House – to be converted into apartments, and the newer school structures would be replaced with large family houses.

The end result is expected to create 18 houses and 33 apartments.

The public consultation on site started today (Tuesday, October 12) and is open from 12pm–7pm until Friday (October 15) and from 10am–3pm on Saturday (October 16).

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Speaking ahead of the consultation opening James said, “If you understand the site, design it in a sympathetic way, and listen to people – they’re usually quite supportive.

Moira House public consultation. SUS-211210-130756001Moira House public consultation. SUS-211210-130756001
Moira House public consultation. SUS-211210-130756001

“We’ve spoken to the neighbours and consulted with them heavily.”

The consultation looks at the impact the plans will have on the community, the economy, and the environment.

Jo said she’s a ‘very heritage-led architect’ so lots of work has been done with the local conservation groups and the council to make sure the development is ‘done properly’ as James said.

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Large displays are arranged throughout the consultation to show members of the public what the finished site will look like, which includes plenty of green spaces and a underground car park so ‘you’re not looking out at a sea of cars,’ James said.

He said thought has been given to the street scene to avoid there being disruption to the landscape.

James said, “We’ve got the South Downs National Park behind us, so you’ll only be able to see the roof of one house.”

Jo said, “We’ve consulted with so many people because it’s all about the residents.”

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Once the consultation ends on Saturday afternoon, the next steps will involve making tweaks to the plans in response to public feedback and then it will be a case of submitting the full planning application by the end of the year. James hopes for a decision to be made in Spring 2022 in order for work to start.

He said the plans will create 200 jobs and take a total of two years.

James, who was brought up in Eastbourne and hopes to move back here permanently, said, “It’s been an emotional project already. To do this in my home town means it’s important to get it right.

“When you compare this to other counties, your quality of living in Eastbourne is so high. There’s not many places that you can live that are nicer than this.”

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MP for Eastbourne Caroline Ansell visited the consultation today (Tuesday, October 12).

She said, “Three of the buildings in this site are of architectural merit to Eastbourne and their sensitive redevelopment is important for our heritage and our townscape.

“At the consultation event to look at the plans, I didn’t miss an opportunity to press for employment and training opportunities for local people and to flag the government’s kickstart scheme to get 16 to 24-year-olds into employment.

“It is important developments like this step forward and ‘value add’ to our town in these ways especially in the emerging green industries incorporating cutting-edge, high-tech eco innovations and more traditional restoration skills.”

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Members of the planning team will be on hand to answer questions and explain the development to members of the public this week. There are also feedback forms for you to leave your thoughts.

For more information go to