Fresh hearing for bowls club plan

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THE fight for the future of Gulliver’s Bowling Club enters a new phase with the announcement the appeal against refusal of planning permission will be re-held.

Churchill Retirement Living wants to be allowed to knock down existing buildings and put in 41 sheltered apartments for the elderly, with communal facilities, indoor and outdoor bowling, clubhouse and car park.

The application was turned down by Rother District Council’s planning committee but there followed a lengthy appeal which went in favour of the proposal but this was challenged and the decision has been quashed.

It has now been decided the appeal must be heard again with new guidelines and procedures coming into play and all concerned are preparing for this in early December.Meanwhile Churchill Retirement Living is being accused of misleading residents by Anna Selby, the chairman of Knole Road flats’ 200 owners.

She says they received a letter headed ‘Planning Issues’ which turned out to be not from the council but the developer, and she wonders if this was a way of assessing any arguments.

She warned: “The Planning Inspectorate needs to think very carefully before it grants Churchill planning permission and despoils and disaffects an entire community.” Ms Selby questioned Churchill’s claim the plan would enhance the area and provide a much needed service as recently built flats in the town have proved difficult to sell.

She told the Observer that residents think Knole Road would turn into an “overshadowed, gloomy wind tunnel” with loss of their privacy and light, increased parking problems and potential flooding because of loss of soakaway ground, and subsequent risk of subsidence in Knole Road flats, which is a grade II listed building.

She added: “And what of Gullivers itself?

“Churchill declares that the bowls club is “thriving” and an important part of the community.

“Unfortunately, as is well known, the bowling club has been failing for years with an ever-dwindling membership. Its site was always intended to be a green space for the public...

“That green space will disappear forever with this plan and all existing local residents will lose their view of it. Gullivers do not appear to have considered any alternatives, such as sport and lottery funding or other commercial, but less intrusive, possibilities.

“It could continue as a bowling club - although there are a further six greens in Bexhill - it could return to its origins as a croquet lawn, it could be tennis courts or simply a park.

“This is the only open green space in east Bexhill and it would be a tragedy for the community to lose it.

“Rother’s own planning department says that: “The amenity of neighbouring properties needs to be protected.

“Hence, the impact of development needs to be carefully considered in relation to issues such as loss of light and privacy, avoiding an overbearing presence and otherwise causing intrusion.

“This ugly and unnecessary development would deliver on all these counts and more.”