Part conversion of Polegate pub approved despite parking concerns
Proposals to convert part of a Polegate pub into shared housing have been given the go ahead by Wealden planners.
On Thursday (June 18), Wealden District Council’s planning committee south approved proposals to create two five-bedroom houses in multiple occupation (HMOs) by converting part of the The Junction Tavern in Station Road.
According to planning documents, developer Bates Capital intends to maintain The Junction as a “food-led community pub”, but will convert both the ground floor function room and the upper parts of the building into shared housing.
This would follow a similar model to developments in Hastings, Bexhill and Eastbourne, which the developer had been involved in previously, the committee heard.
However, this model saw little support from Lower Willingdon councillor Stephen Shing (Independent Democrat). He said: “The parking situation in Polegate is chaos. Polegate is the smallest town in Wealden, nothing like Hastings and Eastbourne as mentioned in the report.
“They are far off and have much bigger town centres, in which [residents] can live happily without owning a car. Polegate High Street only has a handful of shops and they will need vehicles to shop and go to work.
“I am very disappointed that our Wealden waste management department and [East Sussex] highways do not object to this application.”
Cllr Shing added that he also believed the property would be overcrowded and called on the committee to “use its common sense” and refuse the application.
Several other committee members also raised concerns about the potential impact on parking in Polegate.
In the application, only two parking spaces are to be provided for the ten residents of the two HMOs, with a further three spaces for the use of the pub’s staff.
While East Sussex Highways says such a housing development would normally be expected to provide eight spaces, it has not raised an objection to the proposals.
Wealden planning officers, meanwhile, said the proposal would likely have been recommended for approval even if it contained no parking spaces for residents, as the site is considered to be in a sustainable location.
The building would also have bicycle storage facilities and easy access to both bus and rail routes, the committee heard.
Despite the concerns from some committee members the proposals were eventually approved on a majority decision of seven in favour and five against.
Recommending the application for approval, Cllr Bob Bowdler (Con, Horam and Punnetts Town) said: “I welcome this application, it is just the sort of thing that I think Wealden needs, affordable accommodation like this.
“Yes, there are a few minor problems with it, but I think we shouldn’t let those get in the way of the application.
“I do acknowledge that there is a parking problem in Polegate in general, but that was [because of] a policy decision taken by the whole council and perhaps it is about time we revisited that, but that is not for now.”
The application had previously been due for discussion by the planning committee in May, but a decision was deferred as committee members felt they did not have time to adequately debate the proposals.
For further details see application reference WD/2019/1221/F on the Wealden District Council planning website.
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