Councillors say ‘no’ to controversial hotel plan

Planning application to build a hotel in Egerton Road: Tony Cunningham standing in front of the site where the proposed hotel would be built. SUS-160928-142033001
Planning application to build a hotel in Egerton Road: Tony Cunningham standing in front of the site where the proposed hotel would be built. SUS-160928-142033001

A controversial plan to build a five-storey hotel in the town centre was refused yesterday (Thursday, November 17).

Most Rother District Council planning committee members decided the Egerton Road proposal would be an over-development which would aggravate parking problems.

Some did accept the idea of a hotel on the corner of Cornwall Road to help regenerate Bexhill and accommodate the increasing number of visitors.

Bexhill St Stephens Cllr Bridget George said she saw both sides of the argument but believed it was ‘too tall, too big and too many rooms’.

“It looks like a prison, I don’t like its design. It doesn’t sit well in the surrounding area but in principle it’s not a bad area for a hotel,” she said.

More than 100 residents and business owners objected to the 73-room hotel proposal ahead of the planning meeting at Bexhill Town Hall.

The main concerns, echoed by councillors, were the size, the out-of-character design and the lack of parking provision.

Bexhill Central Cllr Abul Azad believed no hotel of any size would be appropriate for the site.

However fellow ward representative Cllr Joy Hughes disagreed with Cllr Azad and said the town needs a hotel close to the seafront.

“It’s a brilliant idea and I feel terribly sad that immediately everyone says ‘not there, Bexhill is a retirement area’,” she said.

“Bexhill’s not a retirement area, it is somewhere to come and see our wonderful seafront.”

Bexhill Chamber of Commerce is among the biggest advocates for the hotel, who say it would bring prosperity and a much-needed place for more rooms for visitors to stay.

Cllr Maurice Watson concurred and said Bexhill needs a budget hotel in the town centre. Cllr Douglas Oliver argued the committee would be letting down the residents who vehemently oppose the hotel by even considering accepting it.

“I wouldn’t dispute the fact that Bexhill needs a hotel, but I would like to see more sites identified, such as near the Link Road or the sports centre, but not in this particular location.”

Planning officers recommended refusal and councillors agreed by 11 votes to two.

Supporters of the hotel scheme were left disappointed by the decision.

Bexhill Chamber of Commerce, 1066 Country Marketing and the De La Warr Pavilion are among the organisations who believe the hotel would bring prosperity to the town.

Chamber vice-president Howard Martin was encouraged by the councillors’ support in principle for a hotel on the Egerton Road site.

“I’m disappointed that the hotel plan hasn’t been passed at this stage, however we’re very positive that it’s brought certain things forward on the agenda,” he said.

“What is really positive is that in principle the planning committee didn’t object to a hotel on that site.

“They recognised the importance of it being a seafront hotel.”

Mr Martin also congratulated the campaigners for bringing the parking issue to the top of the council’s agenda.

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