Eastbourne hotel's conversion into HMO refused

Proposals to convert an Eastbourne hotel into shared housing have been refused by a planning inspector.

In a decision published last week, they dismissed an appeal connected to plans to convert the Savoy Court Hotel in Cavendish Place — a listed building within Eastbourne’s Conservation Area — into a 29-bedroom House in Multiple Occupation (HMO).

The appeal had been lodged on the grounds that Eastbourne Borough Council had failed to make a decision within the statutory time frame required.

In weighing the proposal, the inspector concluded that it would not harm the historical significance of the listed building nor cause any parking problems.

Savoy Court Hotel

However, they also concluded that the change of use to a HMO would unacceptably harm the surrounding area, even with the national drive to provide more housing in mind.

The inspector wrote: “The removal of insensitive partitioning and the return of some compartmentalisation in the listed building would return some historic significance to the building which has been listed for its special historic and architectural interest.

“A viable use for the building would help to secure its conservation. The layout in this proposal would also have heritage benefits over the extant scheme, which requires greater compartmentalisation. To these heritage benefits, because of their scale or extent, I attribute modest weight.

“However, the development would harm the living conditions of surrounding occupiers and it would be incompatible with the tourist accommodation use in the area.

“When assessed against the policies in the [National Planning Policy] Framework taken as a whole, the adverse impacts would significantly and demonstrably outweigh its benefits. As a result, the presumption in favour of sustainable development does not apply.”

While the inspector refused planning permission, they did grant listed building consent as they concluded the works proposed would not harm the character of the building. This consent would not allow the building to be used as a HMO.

The original plans argued: “The proposed conversion avoids further degradation or loss of the building fabric and will enable the failing hotel to have new and viable future.”

For further information on the proposals see application references 210117 and 210118 on the Eastbourne Borough Council website.