On Thursday (November 11), Rother District Council’s planning committee considered an application to demolish a 1950s chalet bungalow at 55 South Cliff and replace it with a new dwelling of a modern design.
The new building would be clad in white brick, timber and concrete, with a large balcony to its rear. It would also have a swimming pool built into the property.
While recommended for approval, this design saw strong opposition from committee members, including Hurst Green and Ticehurst councillor Mary Barnes (Con).
She said: “What I would really like to say is what is going on in my head and possibly in other people’s as well; I just think this building is hideous.
“I think it is the precursor and forerunner of a whole row of similar houses. Is this what you want to see along that part of the cliff?
“For my money, I think it is just a horrible departure from the pleasant styles we looked at across the road. I think it is not sustainable, I think it is just an eyesore. I feel desperately sorry for those who are cramped next door and having to look at hugely high walls. I just can’t see anything pleasant about this.
“This just smacks to me of greed and it looks to me like every house we see along there is bigger, better, shinier, more glassy, more whatever and when is this nonsense going to stop.”
Similar concerns were shared by Liberal Democrat Susan Prochak, who had concerns about the building materials proposed.
Cllr Prochak said: “I think a lot of us will be thinking the same thing. But what I wanted to say is I think this is an example of the worst aspect of human behaviour.
“When we are trying to balance applicants’ wishes, we have to balance it in terms of the greater good and of course our policies.
“The problem with this one is we are hoisted on our own petard because we have given permission already for concrete.
“The amount of concrete in this application makes it one of the worst applications in terms of carbon production. We shouldn’t be approving things like this after COP26.
“The problem is now we have got examples along that row. It is such a pity we haven’t held the line with a design for this whole street. I think we’ve lost the battle, because you have already given permission.”
Officers cautioned against refusal, however, as, while the replacement building would have a greater impact on the street scene and neighbours, it was similar to another design approved next door.
As a result, officers said, it should be granted planning permission with conditions to prevent any unacceptable overlooking on neighbouring properties.
The decision to defer was ultimately made as the committee had unresolved concerns about this overlooking, particularly to the rear.
While the committee had been on a site visit to the property they had not been able to gain access to the back garden. In light of this several committee members argued that a further site visit was necessary so they would be able to make an informed decision.
The committee was cautioned that the decision could see an appeal on grounds of non-determination.
For further information on the proposals see application reference RR/2021/863/P on the Rother District Council website.