Plans to reduce “prison bars” are not good enough

A Bexhill building supplies company has applied to the council to alter an unpopular 18-foot metal timber rack, but their plans have been criticised for not doing enough to improve the view for neighbours.

In August the Observer reported that Parker Building Supplies (PBS) at Bellbrook Business Park had erected the timber rack without planning permission, along a boundary with neighbouring residential properties in August 2013.

One neighbour, Barbara Thomassen, who lives in Piltdown Close, compared the rack to “prison bars” and said she was worried about the potential dangers to her family.

Rother District Council told the company the rack was not a “permitted development” and asked them to remove it but the company wanted to keep it and would apply for retrospective planning permission.

PBS has now put forward a retrospective planning application .

The application proposes to keep the rack, reduce part of its height but increase its length at the northern end of the site.

This would mean the footprint of the rack would be 
reduced from 34.85m by
 1 .4m.

The application has already been through two rounds of consultation with the council, and PBS has amended the proposal by making alterations to the height and length of the existing structure.

But the district council’s planners are still not convinced: “The applicant has made an attempt to mitigate the effects of the retention of the structure on the adjacent residents by proposing to reduce the height of a large part of it.

“However, the retention of two substantial high sections would continue to have an unacceptable effect on the amenity of the closest residents due to the overbearing nature of these parts of the structure.

“The high sections would remain highly visible from the adjacent residential area, adversely affecting its character and appearance.

“While the need to operate the site in a safe manner is appreciated, this does not over-ride the significant harm that would be caused to residential amenity and the character and appearance of the area by allowing the structure to remain in this location, even in its amended form.

“Therefore, planning
 permission should be refused.”

Councillors were due to make a decision on the application as the Bexhill Observer went to press.