In September it was reported that plans had been submitted to Eastbourne Borough Council by Fairhome to convert the Citrus Hotel, formerly known as The Big Sleep in King Edwards Parade, into 32 flats.
That month the planning department has issued a notice of application to neighbours in the vicinity of the hotel telling them the plans would include a mix of studio flats, and one-two bedroom flats.
However, in section seven titled ‘Planning Statement’ in plans provided by Fairhome it says the proposals would create ‘short term tenancies’ for the flats which would be managed by a landlord for people ‘currently unable to secure a home’.
Some 40 objections have already been submitted by members of the public with many drawing on issues around tourism, parking, and worries that this change in detail around ‘short term tenancies’ means it would be used to house homeless people.
Resident Mrs Ilsley said, “After the council spent so many millions of pounds refurbishing the Congress Theatre and landscaping its surrounding areas it could quickly lose its attraction if a building for housing vulnerable people together with the problems this could present is located in this area.”
Another neighbour Mrs Clark-Darby said, “I applaud the council for taking steps to house homeless people but much more thought needs to be given to the location and impact on locals and businesses.”
Mr and Mrs Chisholm said, “A change of use to residential must require the applicant to demonstrate that such change would a) not be detrimental to the tourist attraction of the area and b) would be incompatible as a neighbouring land use to other premises in the area.
“No such demonstrable evidence that these are not the case is forthcoming in the application, only assertions. Common sense dictates that such a change of use would be both detrimental and incompatible.”
As well as this Annie Wills, the head of tourism and enterprise for the council, said, “From a tourism prospective we would object to this application, this hotel is in the primary accommodation area. Occupancy is well above average and we believe the staycation will continue.”
A letter from Sussex Police said, “The local neighbourhood policing team (NPT) have concerns with this application and for the surrounding area as the present location already has temporary accommodation in the immediate vicinity.
“The location and surrounding areas are experiencing incidents of anti-social behaviour, drugs and crime and disorder. The NPT are concerned that the latter type of accommodation planned is likely to bring additional problems to the area escalating them further and impacting more open police resources.”
A spokesperson for Fairhome said, “Over the past 18 months the pandemic has caused many businesses within the hospitality sector to become unviable and the Citrus Hotel is one such business.
“There is a significant under provision of social housing in the UK and Fairhome Property Group are proposing to convert the former hotel into 32 self-contained apartments to assist with this social housing provision.
“The pandemic has also seen a significant number of individuals lose their jobs and homes so are at risk of homelessness and the proposal around the Citrus Hotel is to support such individuals back into their own homes or general needs social housing with Registered Providers of Social Housing or Local Authorities.
“The Local Authority is required to support individuals at risk of homelessness and as such the Citrus Hotel apartments will be managed as supported social housing accommodation to assist the Local Authority in fulfilling those obligations.
“The apartments will not be used as Temporary or Emergency Accommodation in the general meaning of the terms.”
The target determination date for the plan is December 13 (planning application: 210711).