This conversion from offices to residential in Upperton Road was responsible for the most new homes in Eastbourne in 2020/21 (Google Maps Street View)

These are the Eastbourne sites where new homes are being completed

The rate of new housing delivered across Eastbourne increased in the last financial year despite the impact of the pandemic.

By Joshua Powling
Tuesday, 11th January 2022, 2:43 pm

There were a total of 230 net completions in the borough in 2020/21, the highest figure in eight years and an increase of 30 compared to 2019/20.

The figures were contained in Eastbourne Borough Council’s authority monitoring report (AMR).

The single largest site contributed 73 dwellings, which was the change of use from offices of the former fire and rescue service building in Upperton Road.

The next largest development was 30 net additional units at another former office building converted to residential - Berkeley House in Gildredge Road.

After that there were 17 new homes at Sovereign Harbour, 11 homes at the former car park and car valet site at Langney Shopping Centre, nine at the former Ravelston Grange care home in Denton Road, nine net extra homes at the former St Wilfrid’s Hospice site in Mill Gap Road, nine on land south of Langney Shopping Centre, seven at Minster House in York Road, six at the former Southfields House care home in Southfields Road, six at Upperton Farm House in Enys Road and another six in Pevensey Road.

Overall there were 38 individual sites that contributed to the delivery of housing in the monitoring year.

The report said: “Development on previously developed (brownfield) land has always been a priority for Eastbourne Borough Council. Due to its surrounding geography, the South Downs National Park, and the marshy areas of Eastbourne Park and East Langney Levels, opportunities for greenfield developments are limited and normally only relate to new dwellings in garden space.”

In the 2020/2021 monitoring year, 203 dwellings were delivered on previously developed land, with 28 homes were delivered on greenfield sites.

Eastbourne’s previous annual target was 240 homes a year, but since its core strategy is more than five years old has to use the standard methodology to calculate its housing need.

For Eastbourne, this equates to 693 homes per year.

But since it has previously undelivered, it has to add a 20 per cent buffer to its five-year requirement, which amounts to 4,158 homes (832 a year).

Eastbourne can only currently demonstrate a 1.8 year supply of housing land.

Affordable housing

There were no affordable housing units delivered during the 2020/2021 monitoring year, which is a decrease from the previous monitoring year which saw a net delivery of five units. There was no affordable housing built in 2018/19 either.

However in the five years before that 165 affordable homes had been built.

The AMR points the blame for a dearth of delivered affordable housing on the fact that developments only have to build them on schemes of 10 homes or more.

As the vast majority of homes are built in Eastbourne on smaller sites, it impacts the delivery of affordable housing.

Affordability

The most recent affordability data available was published in March 2021 showing in Eastbourne a median house price of £250,000 and median gross average workplaced-based earnings of £29,761.

This gives an affordability ratio of 8.40 compared to 7.84 for England, 9.92 for the South East and 10.86 for East Sussex.

The report outlines how this ratio in Eastbourne has risen from 3.29 in 1997 as house prices have risen and earnings have stagnated.

Meanwhile, between 2015 and 2021 the mean monthly rent in Eastbourne across all types of accommodation has increased by 18 per cent from £699 to £825.

Between 2015 and 2020 earnings only rose by 8.4 per cent.

The largest increase in terms of rental values is for single rooms, which has risen by 23.3 per cent over the last six years, while the rental price of four and more bedroom accommodation has decreased by 7.5 per cent.

Employment

During the monitoring year 2020/2021, there was an overall net loss of 5,241 sqm of employment uses.

The town centre saw a loss in office space as well as retail and hotels, but an increase in restaurant and cafes as well as indoor recreation and leisure.

However across the borough there was a net gain of research and development, general industrial and warehouse space.

What next?

The AMR says the council is gathering evidence for many aspects of its local plan review with further work undertaken to identify and address gaps in evidence required.

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