‘Disappointing’ extension to Bexhill business park turned down

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Proposals to extend the Bexhill Enterprise Park have been refused by Rother planners due to major concerns about its final design.

On Thursday (October 10), Rother District Council’s planning committee refused a reserved matters application to build 24 new business units as part of the Bexhill Enterprise Park North development.

While the wider scheme had been granted outline planning permission last year, committee members heard how the proposals did not provide the “innovative new type of eco-business park” promised at that time.

The scheme was recommended for refusal as a result, although some committee members felt more could be done to salvage the proposals. 

Arguing in favour of deferring the committee’s decision, Cllr Mary Barnes (Con, Hurst Green and Ticehurst) said: “I have to say I think the only course of action for us – because I don’t want to see this refused  – is some sort of stay of execution.

“I think it is absolutely vital we defer this today, because I think there are so many loose ends that need to be tied up still. 

“It is something that is going to happen. It is going to be something that Bexhill needs but on the other hand there are so many things that need to be removed.

“I have read the letter from [applicant] Westcott Leach and I can see they are halfway towards getting some sort of compromise going with our planning officers and I think [it needs] just a little bit longer.”

Cllr Barnes said the deferral would give the developer another chance to address the objections raised by council planners.

A similar argument was made by Cllr Kevin Dixon (Lib Dem, Southern Battle and Telham), who described a deferral as giving developers ‘one last chance’ to engage.

Other councillors, however, were unconvinced that a deferral would give enough time for agreement to be reached given the scale of the objections from officers. 

In a report to the committee, these objections were summarised as: issues with the comprehensive masterplanning; phasing; layout;  tree loss; ecology; built form and detailed design parking provision; sustainable drainage and foul water connection; and consistency with the vision, objectives and principles of [local planning policy]. 

The report goes on to say that previous attempts to work with the applicant – Westcott Leach Ltd – and Bexhill Enterprise Park developers Sea Change Sussex had not resulted in amendments to the scheme. 

Cllr Susan Prochak (Lib Dem, Robertsbridge) said: “It is so disappointing that this has come to us and we are faced with refusing this. So disappointing.

“I have every confidence in [the planning officer’s] ability to negotiate improvements, but if this were deferred I don’t think the improvements we are seeking here could be achieved by an approval.”

Following further discussion the application was refused on a majority verdict.

The refused scheme sought permission for the erection of 24 industrial units with a combined commercial floor space of 7,895sqm. It would also have included landscaping and a new road layout.  

For further details of the application see reference RR/2018/2790/P on the Rother District Council planning website.