Planners refuse Bexhill guest house conversion

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Plans to convert a Bexhill guest house into residential flats have been refused by councillors due to concerns around the loss of tourist accommodation.

In an application to Rother District Council, Collington Lodge Guest House owner Raymond Walker had been seeking permission to remove a condition requiring a part of the property to be used for holiday lets.

The condition was imposed as a result of a previous application by Mr Walker in 2014, where permission was granted to convert the guest house into a single residential flat and two holiday lets.

While the residential flat has now been completed the two holiday lets have not, with the remaining part of the property continuing to operate as a guest house.

In the most recent application, an agent for Mr Walker, aged 80, said he and his wife wished to retire and that the conversion would allow the couple to remain living in their home.

The agent also said the couple had been unsuccessful in their attempts to sell the guest house as a going concern despite it being on the market for more than seven years. 

However, Rother planning officers recommended the application for refusal as it would result in the loss of tourist accommodation, going against council policy.

The application was formally refused by councillors at a planning committee meeting on Thursday (July 19).

Speaking during the meeting, Cllr Maurice Watson (Con. – Sidley) expressed sympathy for the applicants but moved the recommendation to refuse the application.

He said: “I think probably the recommendation is correct as far as the policies are concerned. But I would like to know is how much business is actually done at the place.

“It is important because two people want to retire and they are in a situation where they, through health reasons, cannot actually carry on what they are doing there.

“Should we have a soft heart and allow them to develop the rest of their property into flats? I don’t think it goes with policy but it is the question that runs through my mind.”

Replying to Cllr Watson’s comments, planning committee chairman Brian Kentfield (Con. – Kewhurst) said: “I would like to remind you of our policies. Other people have asked the same question many times.

“We have to follow our policies otherwise we will lose our holiday accommodation.”

The application was refused with 11 councillors voting for refusal and one against.

Huw Oxburgh , Local Democracy Reporting Service