Calls for redesigns to replacement Crowborough care home

Planners have called on developers to redesign proposals for a care home in Crowborough.

Wednesday, 26th August 2020, 5:23 pm

At a meeting on Thursday (August 20), Wealden District Council’s planning committee north considered an application to demolish the vacant Harecombe Manor Nursing Home in Southview Road and replace it with a new facility.

While recommended for approval, some committee members had concerns that the scheme as proposed would have a detrimental effect on the area, largely due to its size and scale. 

As a result, councillors opted to defer their decision and ask developers to come back with a new design with a “reduced bulk, massing and height” and that reduces any potential light pollution.

Proposing the deferral, Cllr Susan Stedman (Con, Horam & Punnets Town) said: “I am concerned about the bulk and massing of this building and there will obviously be a lot of light spillage from this.

“A building like this will presumably have corridors illuminated 24/7 and I think the light overspill into the road below would be quite noticeable.

“I’m not happy with it. I can see there are very few grounds at this stage for refusal, but I think they could reduce the bulk and massing of this.

“It is all very well and good saying it is the same height as [the current building] but what exists is not in one great monolithic slab.”

She added: “They could do more and they could do better.”

The committee also requested that the developer increase the number of parking places provided as part of the proposals – from 30 to 42. 

Officers, however, warned that the 30 spaces met the minimum standards set by East Sussex Highways, so the committee could not insist on this. 

The committee also asked that developers provide details of the sustainable features in the design, such as solar panels, ground source heat pumps and other energy saving measures.

Despite support for a deferral on the committee, the council’s head of policy and economic development Chris Bending  warned that it may not lead to the result desired by members.

Mr Bending said: “I just want to be realistic about where we are going if a deferral is the will of the committee [and] what the likely outcome of a deferral might be. 

“Some of the points raised by Cllr Stedman can and could be very simply and straightforwardly dealt with by conditions. 

“In terms of the consideration of the bulk and the massing and the scale of the building and the impact on the street scene, I’m cautious.

“The reason I am cautious is that this is not a design that has thrown together in two minutes. This is a design which has been considered over a protracted period following an appeal decision on particularly those points; on the scale, the design and the quality of the building.

“I would be concerned that if we were to push this away for a redesign, there is a realistic chance the applicant may feel they are not going to get what they want and ultimately they need to test this [at appeal].”

He added that to avoid this outcome, the committee should specify which part of the design they would like to see reduced. The committee then specified the south (rear) side of the building.

Following further discussion, the committee voted 10 to one to defer the application.

A previous application to demolish and replace the manor house had been  refused in 2018. This decision was upheld at appeal, with the planning inspector saying the proposed design was not of a sufficient quality to justify the loss of the Victorian manor house.

The building had been used as a hospital for wounded soldiers during the First World War and later became a nursing home for the elderly, which closed its doors in 2016.

For further details see application reference WD/2019/1935/MAJ on the Wealden District Council website.

A message from the Editor, Gary Shipton:

In order for us to continue to provide high quality and trusted local news, I am asking you to please purchase a copy of our newspapers.

With the coronavirus lockdown having a major impact on many of our local valued advertisers - and consequently the advertising that we receive - we are more reliant than ever on you helping us to provide you with news and information by buying a copy of our newspapers.

Our journalists are highly trained and our content is independently regulated by IPSO to some of the most rigorous standards in the world. But being your eyes and ears comes at a price. So we need your support more than ever to buy our newspapers during this crisis.

Stay safe, and best wishes.