Opposition to 50 homes plan on former Bexhill school site

Business representatives have opposed plans to build more than 50 new homes in Bexhill.

Thursday, 14th October 2021, 1:41 pm
The proposed development for homes on land adjacent to King Offa Primary Academy. Image from Rother District Council SUS-211014-111311001

Bexhill Chamber of Commerce said the proposed development on the site of the former Bexhill High School was already occupied by a business.

Howard Martin, the chamber’s president, said: “The land being considered is valuable employment land currently occupied by a very successful local business running a driver/rider training facility and employing ten highly qualified trainers, admin and mechanics.

“1066 Motorcycle Training are the umbrella business who have leased the site for nearly 10 years from East Sussex County Council (ESCC) and are charged £27k per annum in business rates by Rother District Council (RDC) to occupy the site.

The proposed development for homes on land adjacent to King Offa Primary Academy. Image from Rother District Council SUS-211014-111321001

“They offer a unique business model and training service to the community and are the only entirely off-road vehicle training facility in the area.

“During the pandemic they have offered an essential service in keeping many care workers and delivery riders on the road, many of whom use powered two wheelers. Also during the pandemic they took up an overspill from London boroughs to accommodate CBT training which further fed into the local economy.”

He said Alliance Homes (Rother) Ltd was ‘not an appropriate body’ to deliver the development.

Mr Martin said: “Alliance Homes (Rother) Ltd is a wholly owned private limited company subsidiary of RDC with only four directors, all of whom are elected district councillors, three of whom also sit on the RDC planning committee in various capacities. This creates an obvious conflict of interest in all matters concerning the relationship between Alliance Homes and RDC.”

The proposed 52 homes come following an award of £500,000 from the Government’s Brownfield Land Release Fund.

RDC was one of 53 local authorities across England to benefit from the £58m first tranch of government funding, Bexhill MP, Huw Merriman said.

He added: “It’s significant that the first funding award from the new Levelling Up Department includes Rother. I’ve long argued that the south coast must benefit from regeneration in addition to parts of the country further north.

“It’s positive that RDC are bidding and even more positive that the Government are accepting. I hope this will help to unlock the total ambitions of this site, which have included a long-awaited leisure centre for Bexhill residents and those from its surrounds.”

A Rother District Council spokesman said: “Alliance Homes, the council’s housing company, was formed to accelerate the delivery of housing across Rother. The residential element of the development proposed on the site of the former Bexhill High School would provide much-needed family homes for the area, and seeks to respond to the high levels of housing need in Bexhill.

“All members of the planning committee must declare any interests before any applications are discussed and decided, which may result in their involvement being restricted.

“All planning applications that come before the committee are decided in line with local planning policy and legislation.

“The pre-application consultation provides an opportunity for local people to express their views on the proposals and all comments will be taken into account.

“The consultation is open until October 17 and can be accessed via the Alliance Homes page of our website.”