On Tuesday (October 19), Eastbourne Borough Council’s planning committee considered an application to build 13 apartments in place of a building known as Sedgemoor at the corner of Mill Road and Ashburnham Road.
A previous version of the scheme had been before the committee in September, where councillors deferred the proposals, asking the applicant to come back with a smaller scheme which would have less impact on neighbouring properties.
The applicant did so, coming back with a revised scheme with a reduced roof height and a reduced number of flats (13 rather than 14).
Unlike the previous scheme, the revised scheme would not have included any contribution towards affordable housing as the applicant said it would no longer be financially viable. This conclusion had not been independently assessed at the time of the committee meeting.
However, committee members felt the reduction did not go far enough as they had requested the building height to be reduced by a full storey due to its position on the brow of a hill.
Cllr Jane Lamb (Con, Meads) said: “We were very interested in this building when it came up a month ago because it is in a very prominent position. It is a very important building and it is replacing a wonderful Victorian Gothic building, which is a tragedy but which we have no control over.
“I think the design of the building is innovative and quite creative because it has echoes of the Gothi Victorian architecture. The problem is I am very disappointed in what has come back so quickly to us, because we were anticipating a whole floor of reduction and we haven’t really got that.
“It is a bit half-hearted and perhaps more thought needed to go into it to reduce it further in view of the different land levels, which make it look more prominent than it is. At the moment I don’t think it has met the expectations I had for revision.”
Similar concerns around height were expressed by several other committee members, including Cllr Peter Diplock (Lib Dem, Old Town) who described it as “a five-tier Mary Berry Christmas cake overshadowing a series of much smaller fairy cakes”.
In light of these concerns, the committee opted to defer the proposals for a second time in the hopes the applicant would submit another design, which would further reduce the building’s height.
Committee chairman Jim Murray (Lib Dem) said: “They have reduced it by five foot. A storey height is eight foot, so they are only three foot short of where we were expecting them to be. But feedback from members seems to be that we are still not quite there yet.
“I would suggest from the chair that we perhaps send this back again for deferral, for further discussion, because obviously the applicant is prepared to listen to us and make some changes.”
For further details of the proposals see application reference 210339 on the Eastbourne Borough Council planning website.