IT’S been a long haul, but campaigners opposed to development at Gullivers Bowls Club are “thrilled” and “delighted” that the decision by the Planning Inspectorate has gone their way.
On Wednesday Frances Mahoney dismissed the appeal by Churchill Retirement Living against a refusal to grant planning permission for 41 sheltered apartments for the elderly, access, car parking, and club facilities, in Knole Road.
The Inspector felt the development would cause “substantial harm” to the setting of De La Warr Parade which she described as “a heritage asset of significance.”
She said: “In addition the proposal would unacceptably harm the character and appearance of the surrounding area. Therefore, the appeal should fail.”
Supporters of the campaign against development hope this is the final stage in a battle that has been fought for years. Christine Madeley of Gullivers Action Group said this week: “GAG is thrilled that all of its efforts over the last decade have proved to be so worthwile.”
She thanked Dr Paul Stookes of Richard Buxton, in Cambridge, for his legal representation and added: “As chairman I would like to thank most sincerely the committee members for their dogged determination over the years.
“A special debt of gratitude is owed to GAG’s supporters, but sadly this victory cannot be shared with many of our original stalwarts from Knole Road who are no longer with us.
“If only this open space can be saved in perpetuity for all to enjoy, it will be a fitting legacy.”
Her words were echoed by resident Anne Marie Loader who declared it a “real victory for people power, and proof that the community was right to stick to its guns for 10 years and object.”
She however warned that celebrations should be on hold as the appellants have six weeks to challenge the decision at the High Court, just as opponents successfully did with the first appeal back in 2007.
Anna Selby of Knole Road flat owners also said they were “thrilled” and congratulated Rother District Council’s conservation officer Diane Russell “whose evidence clearly impacted on the decision.”
She concluded: “We would like to enter into a dialogue with the Gullivers management to explore any ways we can assist the club in retaining the space as a sporting and leisure facility.”