Extra homes at King Edward VII Estate refused

Extra new homes at the King Edward VII Estate near Easebourne have been emphatically rejected.

Artist's impression of proposed homes at Kings Green East on the King Edward VII estate near Easebourne
Artist's impression of proposed homes at Kings Green East on the King Edward VII estate near Easebourne

Enabling development was approved in 2011 to ensure the restoration and maintenance of a number of heritage assets at the estate. Since then a number of applications have been submitted for amendments to various parcels.

Developer Probitas submitted two applications to the South Downs National Park Authority, one for 93 dwellings on Kings Green East, and another for 18 homes at Superintendents Drive.

These proposals represented an increase from previously consented schemes for 44 and six units respectively. Both were unanimously refused by the national park’s planning committee last Thursday (January 16).

Terraced housing refused in King Edward VII estate

Probitas argued the new assisted living properties should be viewed as enabling development to facilitate the fitting out and use of the estate’s grade II* listed chapel as a community facility.

However national park officers found the schemes were ‘not appropriate enabling development’, with any benefits not outweighing the significant degree of harm that would be caused.

Members took issue with the ‘cramped’ 18 units arranged in two terrace rows.

Gary Marsh said: “This is urbanisation. This is what I would expect to see in a town not in the countryside.”

Meanwhile on the 11 blocks containing 93 homes, the design and massing of the buildings were criticised as well as the layout, which previously had sought to complement Kings Green.

Alun Alesbury, chairman of the committee, said: “This does look like a university campus or office park of the modern kind.”

Objectors to both schemes raised concerns about the number of parking spaces being provided, inadequate water supply for the proposed new homes, landscaping, density, design and layout.

They also said there was no justification for further enabling development in respect of the estate’s historic buildings and took issue with a lack of consultation with residents.

After the meeting objectors, while welcoming the national park’s decision, expressed concerns the developer would now lodge an appeal with the planning inspectorate.

Scott Curran, from Probitas Developments, said: “It was very disappointing that our two planning applications were rejected at the South Downs planning committee.

“Probitas has been working on plans to improve on the existing, consented development scheme and provide communal facilities to all residents from the Grade II* listed chapel for nearly two years.

“Our proposals were to amend the existing consents on Superintendents Drive and Kings Green East to create retirement cottages and apartments for over-55s, with associated services of a shop, café and bistro in the chapel. This would mean current and future residents of the King Edward VII estate would finally have access to the long-promised communal facilities, which will not now be provided next year as planned.

“While the chapel building has been made watertight it remains empty and on Historic England’s “Building at Risk Register”. This is because the chapel is not being used and cannot generate the funds needed to ensure its on-going upkeep. To secure the optimum use of the chapel as a communal hub for current and future residents, investment of over £1m as well as a long term financial commitment is required.

“The 2011 masterplan for the King Edward VII estate was not landscape-led and feedback from the South Downs independent Design Review Panel noted that our scheme was a clear improvement on the existing consents.

“Probitas and BE Midhurst Devco Ltd will be taking some time to consider these refusals and the comments made by officers, residents and committee members.”