Apartment block is step too far say Heathfield residents

An artist's impression of part of the development
An artist's impression of part of the development

Heathfield residents say blocks of 45 new apartments for older people are ‘hugely out of keeping’ in a quiet residential road.

Abbeyfield, a charity providing housing, support and care for people in later life, plans to extend the services provided by its Heathfield property, Holdenhurst in Mill Road.

The organisation has published details of site redevelopment which would see the existing home and separate block of flats, Gray Court at the rear, demolished and reconstructed with landscaping, a frontage onto Mill Road and apartments behind.

But neighbours and members of the Tilsmore Area Action Group are opposed to the scheme. Giles Hazan, from Mill Road, said: “This is a massive overdevelopment of the site. We feel it is hugely out of keeping.

“Formal planning permission has not yet been sought but we are holding an open meeting to get a feel for where we go next and we will be making objections once the process begins.”

Giles and his co-campaigners feel the building process itself will cause major problems for local people with contractors’ vehicles accessing the site via Sheepsetting Lane and causing problems for parents dropping off or picking up children from Cross-in-Hand Primary School.

Giles said: “There are safety, noise and pollution aspects to be considered during the three years of building work, particularly from large vehicles.” He points out there is already overcapacity with many retirement apartments still awaiting buyers in the town.

Other Action Group members say the scheme will have an impact on local amenities such as medical services, waste and drainage. And they also have concerns that knocking down an historic, older house and replacing it with apartments could set a precedent for future housing in the Tilsmore area.

Abbeyfield spokesman Ian Thomas said: “Abbeyfield bought Gray Court last spring with a view to develop it alongside the Abbeyfield South Downs Society’s neighbouring property, Holdenhurst.

“After positive discussions with the East Sussex County Council and having received a good response in our pre-planning consultation, we will submit a planning application later this year.

“This is a really exciting venture, not only for Abbeyfield but also the local community.

“We look forward to working with the local authority and community to make this a reality.”