On Tuesday (September 21), Eastbourne Borough Council’s planning committee turned down proposals to demolish a set of garages in Motcombe Road and build three houses and two flats in its place.
The proposals, which had seen some strong local opposition, were recommended for approval by council planning officers, but committee members felt differently arguing its access arrangements were unsafe and impractical.
Cllr Colin Murdoch (Con, Ratton) said: “There seems quite a lot wrong with this development.
“Bearing in mind that what we are looking at were garages with this development the way it looks, there is no turning space. We can concern ourselves about the entranceway, about refuse lorries and delivery lorries getting in there, but how are they going to get out.
“There is no way a refuse lorry, an emergency services vehicle, delivery lorries will be able to turn in that area.
“It also concerns me that we are in an area where we are trying to develop properties for families. If young families have got a young child or a pram, cars won’t wait, we’ve got to think of safety as well. It is not just a narrow entrance for vehicles. It is a narrow entrance for people and families.”
Similar concerns around access were raised by a number of other councillors, although planning officers warned this may not be a defensible reason for refusal.
Senior planning advisor James Smith said: “Some of you were there when I visited the site and know I did have concerns over the access. It is a narrow access, visibility is difficult there because of the walls and the houses.
“The difficulty I have as a planning officer is that my professional colleagues at East Sussex County Council [Highways] are telling me it is acceptable. When they do that, as a planning officer working for Eastbourne Borough Council, I have to follow their guidance.
“Members can deviate from that — that is something you have the luxury to do — but you do have to consider if an application is refused against the opinion of a professional consultee there is always the chance that costs could be awarded against us for unreasonable behaviour.”
The committee was not reassured on this point, but some argued their concerns could be attributed to there being too much development on the site.
Committee chairman Jim Murrary (Lib Dem) said: “We’ve got a number of problems with the traffic. There is a restricted access.
“The bins are potentially going to be picked up [from the front of properties] by the bin men, but it is outside their normal remit, so who knows how long that is going to last. There are problems with the fire access as well and you’ve got a narrow access and [issues with] the ability for people to use the access while cars are going down.
“All of those are caused by the fact we’ve got too many houses in that particular area.”
As a result the committee opted to refuse the scheme on two grounds — the access and overdevelopment.
For further information on the proposals see application reference 200598 on the Eastbourne Borough Council planning website.