The proposal to build two restaurants on Glyne Gap was rejected by the council this morning (Thursday, June 30).
Rother District Council‘s planning committee turned down the bid to build a Frankie & Benny’s and a Chiquito over the road from Ravenside Retail Park.
Most councillors agreed with the officers recommendation to refuse permission with many concerned about its location on the Combe Valley Countryside Park.
Officers believed the application would cause ‘unacceptable harm’ to the existing open character and views of the countryside park, in particular by closing off views to it from Bexhill and through the urbanisation of the character of the application site.
Cllr Maurice Watson said the view of the ‘beautiful’ park from the Bexhill side which would be ruined by the restaurants.
“I think the view is the most important part which could be lost if we allowed this to go through,” he said.
Committee chairman Cllr Brian Kentfield said the park is not meant for development and never has been but hoped the developers would consider sites in the town centre.
Another concern was the potential to set a precedent for developing the park and reducing the gap between Bexhill and Hastings which Cllr Joy Hughes agreed with.
“This has always been our gap between us and them to be honest,” she said.
Five residents had stated their support for the scheme while 60 objections were received, including one from St Michael’s ward Cllr Charles Clark who has previously expressed his concerns about the proposal.
Cllr Clark said at the meeting he could not understand why the developers, The Restaurant Group (TRG), could not build the food outlets in the town centre where it would be more suitable.
TRG claimed the restaurants would be worth £2m annually to the area’s economy and will create around 100 jobs.
The decision was not unanimous as Cllr Sue Prochak believed it was an opportunity to create jobs and the garage meant some development would be acceptable on a piece of ‘scrubland’.
The Salehurst ward representative said the restaurants would improve the view for people coming to Bexhill from St Leonards as the landscaping would provide more screening of the retail park.
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