On Thursday (May 19), Wealden District Council’s Planning Committee North is set to consider an application from the Greene King pub chain and developers PH Land & Developments seeking permission to build a convenience store next to the Highlands Inn in Eastbourne Road.
A similar application had been refused by council planners in 2015, due to concerns around its design. This decision was upheld by a planning inspector.
However, this new proposal, which has a significantly reworked design, is recommended for approval by Wealden planning officers, who have concluded it overcomes the previous reasons for refusal.
In a report to be considered by the committee, a council planning officer said: “The inspector was clear in their decision that the sole reason for the dismissal of the appeal was the unacceptable harm to the character and appearance of the area that would arise as a consequence of the proposal, specifically in relation to the height, bulk, design and materials of the proposed building.
“Therefore, the current proposal has sought to specifically address these concerns through a reduction in the scale, height and massing of the building; amendments to the design to achieve a more ‘domestic’ appearance; relocating the building slightly further away from the northern/north-eastern boundary of the site; and adoption of a range of materials that are in keeping with the local vernacular.”
Despite the recommendation for approval, the scheme has proven to be controversial with a significant number of Uckfield residents.
Objectors have raised a number of concerns about the proposals including its potential impact on the local highway network and potential impact on neighbour amenity.
They have also raised fears that the new store would affect the viability of existing businesses within the town, particularly the nearby Ridgewood Post Office and Store.
While not part of the application, Greene King says it intends to carry out improvement works to the pub garden should the convenience store plans be approved.
This would involve some new decking being laid as well as the removal of some existing trees. It could also potentially involve the relocation of a war memorial within the site.