Housing at Bexhill bowls club site ‘would fund improvements to clubhouse and indoor rink’

Fresh plans have been put forward to develop a site at the heart of a long-running planning saga.

Monday, 6th September 2021, 1:14 pm

In an application validated by Rother District Council last month, Court Developments Ltd is seeking planning permission to build eight two-bedroom houses at the Gullivers Bowls Club site in Bexhill. 

The proposals also include plans for improvement works to the existing bowls club facilities, including the replacement of its clubhouse and refurbishment of an indoor bowls rink.

In a statement submitted as part of the application, the bowls club’s chairman Charles Wright said: “By selling off part of our land for a residential development, which has not been in use for over twenty years, we will be able to redevelop our clubhouse and indoor bowls arena.

“In our view the proposed residential development of mews cottages will be a sympathetic backdrop to our bowls club green.

“Without this rejuvenation of the clubhouse and indoor bowls arena, a valuable sports facility may be lost to Bexhill-on-Sea within a matter of years.

“Please accept the plans for the rejuvenation of our bowls club and allow us the opportunity to provide Bexhill-on-Sea, with a delightful spot, to play lawn bowls, for many, many years to come.”

The site has a long and complex planning history, with several development schemes having come forward over the past 15 years. 

None of these previous proposals – which all sought permission to build sheltered apartments for elderly people – were ultimately successful. 

The council did eventually grant planning permission to build 39 sheltered apartments on the site in November 2015. However, this decision was later quashed by the Court of Appeal following a campaign by Bexhill resident Anne-Marie Loader.

While the developer behind the quashed scheme did apply for a fresh decision, this application was later withdrawn.

Despite this troubled history, the site has also been allocated for sheltered apartments within Rother’s local planning policy. 

However, Court Developments Ltd is unconnected to these previous attempts and argues its approach to the site would be a more appropriate form of development. 

In a planning statement submitted as part of the application, a spokesman for the developer said: “The bowls club is now in desperate need of repair and refurbishments, together with funds to remain open.

“As such, a recent pre-application consultation confirmed that while the proposal would deviate from the site allocation to an extent, the weight attached to improving the bowls facility and boosting the supply of housing in an urban location would be such that the proposal would be acceptable in principle.

“Following lengthy and detailed discussions with the council, the proposed scheme for a courtyard mews scheme is supported in principle. The provision of two-bedroom properties would also make a positive addition to the town centre housing stock.”

As well as the change from apartments to houses, the new scheme would move the new development from the front to the rear of the site. 

The houses would use an existing access point on Knole Road with a new eight-space car park to be built outside the new homes. 

For further information on the proposals see application reference RR/2021/1455/P on the Rother District Council website.