Decision due on small-scale Bexhill development

Proposals for a small-scale housing development in Bexhill are set to return to Rother planners, after the council received further advice about protecting badgers on the site.

On Thursday (June 23), Rother District Council’s planning committee is set to again consider proposals to demolish a bungalow in Seabourne Road and build three houses in its place.

The scheme had previously been approved by the council in 2015, but this planning permission expired as the works did not take place. The applicant sought to renew their planning permission last year.

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This renewal application was considered by the planning committee in May, but was deferred due to councillors’ concerns around the impact of development on wildlife, specifically a group of badgers living on the site.

Proposed development site in Seabourne Road, Bexhill

Officers had recommended the scheme be approved as conditions would prevent the houses being built unless there were sufficient mitigations in place, including the creation of an artificial sett. As badgers are a protected species, these mitigation works would require the applicant to secure a licence from Natural England (NE).

Despite these conditions, the committee had concerns around whether it had sufficient understanding of the national guidance on protected species to grant planning permission.

In a report to be considered by the committee, officers said the national guidance is that planning permission is not supposed to be granted in areas where such a licence is needed unless it is ‘likely’ to be granted.

However, officers also said that the committee could act under the assumption that this would be the case, as NE had not said mitigation would be impossible.

In the report, a council planning officer said: “A Badger Mitigation Licence would be required from NE to execute the works, but it should be noted that NE will not consider a mitigation licence application until planning permission has been granted for the proposal.

“It should also be noted that planning permission gives no guarantee that NE will grant a licence. Without a licence, the proposed development will not be able to proceed.”

It adds: “Overall the proposal is for a sustainable residential development, which will have an acceptable impact on the environment, including wildlife, and will make a positive contribution to the district’s housing supply.”

For further information see application reference RR/2020/2132/P on the Rother District Council website.