Long-standing plans for an exclusive residential development in Lewes have been given the go-ahead despite widespread local opposition.
Revisions to a scheme approved under LW/08/1140 for the removal of offices at the Bell Lane Depot, Bell Lane, were given the green light by Lewes District Council’s Planning Applications Committee.
It means that seven four-bedroom houses and seven three-bedroom flats with associated parking and landscaping will be built at the site of the former Roche building. The healthcare company has relocated its head office to Burgess Hill.
The South Downs Society had called for permission to be refused at Bell Lane because of a loss of potential employment floorspace, threat to the retention of existing office users, lack of affordable housing, design, quality and appearance of proposed materials and harm to the economic well-being and traditional appearance of the South Downs National Park in this location.
The current scheme provides for a four-storey building, with a fifth storey at the southern end. It has a maximum height above deck level of 16.5m and a general height of 13.5m.
It was the height of the homes that attracted most hostility locally. Residents objected to the proposal on the grounds of worsening privacy and intrusion impacts during the winter months. They complained that the appearance was not in keeping with the surroundings, altering the character of the area, and feared the arrival of increased traffic.
But in recommending that planning permission should be granted, council officers said the residential units will improve the vitality of the site and its general security.
The committee was told the scheme would provide much-needed housing accommodation on a brownfield site within the planning boundary.
The loss of the office/employment floorspace from the proposal was “regrettable”.