Campaigners fighting development at Gullivers bowls club are “appalled” by Rother District Council’s decision not to refuse the application by Churchill Retirement Living but to delegate it.
Churchill’s claimed success last Thursday with its third planning application to build 39 retirement homes, plus communal features, and a new bowling facility which the club itself pushed for.
After battling since 2003, and encouraged by the site’s listing as an asset of community value, shocked opponents are left to consider their response.
Rebecca Dugan of Knole Road Flat Owners is “appalled” and said: “After 10 years of turning the application down the council has, as I understand it, decided to simply wash its hands of the matter and pass the buck. They have given in to the persistence of bullies and the town now stands to lose a very valuable asset.”
Cllr Deirdre Williams, Sackville Ward, described this as “one of the most upsetting decisions” she can remember in 15 years on the planning committee.
She asked: “What chance is there for we local people against the might of the developers? My heart goes out to them and our future generation who will have to live with the loss of our beautiful square as we know it.”
She reported the committee was advised refusal would lead to an appeal by Churchill’s with the result of the council losing and facing legal bills of up to £150,000, adding: “What is the point of bringing it to the planning committe if we can’t refuse? It makes a mockery of it all.”
Cllr Sue Prochak said: “It was with great disappointment that the saga of the future of Gulivers was decided in favour of development. Officers of RDC stated that there were no grounds for refusal. This was in spite of the long and sustained battle by many, many residents to preserve this green space as it was intended...It is a great pity that Rother’s planners’ hands are tied to such an extent that we cannot preserve this open green space or take notice of the community’s wishes.”