New flats versus community hub at Crowborough

Pine Grove at Crowborough
Pine Grove at Crowborough

Plans to build 80 flats on the Pine Grove site of former Wealden District Council offices in Crowborough will be debated at a specially convened meeting on Monday at 7.30pm at Crowborough Community Centre.

Campaigners say if it goes ahead, the new £3.2 million centre, which shares the site, would be blighted by an 18-month to two year construction project. They believe the associated sale of Beaconwood and the Mead House car park will lose 230 town centre car parking spaces, (a claim refuted by Wealden District Council) and leave the library an uncertain future.

Crowborough Community Association (CCA) opposes the plan and wants the district council to support establishing an enterprise and community hub at Pine Grove offices, retaining the library.

CCA’s scheme to expand the Pine Grove business use is due to go before Wealden’s planning committee (north) on Thursday, January 15. The application has received support from 220 residents and local businesses.

Monday’s meeting has been called by a group of electors under the terms of the Local Government Act 1972.

CCA chair Chantal Wilson said: “It is unbelievable that Wealden could promote its own scheme for an important site like Pine Grove without any consultation with its neighbours, the Chamber of Commerce or even the Town Council.”

Resident Roger Bishop agreed. “Wealden’s support for flats is contrary to current planning status for the site, flies inthe face of the agreed Town Plan and is contrary to the wishes of the Town Council and residents.”

A Wealden District Council spokesman said “It is disappointing the CCA makes untrue statements and seeks to mislead. Wealden fully supported the Community Centre and provided the land. Without this being leased to the CCA at a peppercorn rent of £1 a year the project would not have succeeded. The council met the CCA to discuss the business hub project and under the Community Right to Bid were given a six month moratorium until May to put a bid together, but could not raise funds. A much-needed Extra Care facility will replace the old council offices, giving homes for vulnerable people.

“We cannot ask council taxpayers to carry the ongoing cost of the Pine Grove site.”