Latest plans for Bexhill Enterprise Park ‘fall well short of exemplary’

Bexhill Enterprise Park artist's impression
Bexhill Enterprise Park artist's impression

Details of plans to extend the Bexhill Enterprise Park are to go before Rother planners next week.

On Thursday (October 10), Rother District Council’s planning committee is set to consider a reserved matters application to build new business units as part of the wider Bexhill Enterprise Park scheme.

The proposed scheme would include the erection of 24 industrial units with a combined commercial floor space of 7,895sqm. It would also include landscaping and a new road layout. 

While the wider scheme was granted outline planning permission as part of an outline application last year, planning officers are recommending the application be refused due to concerns about its design and impact on the landscape. 

In a report to the committee, a Rother planning officer said: “The scheme lacks an appropriate response to context, topography and landscape and is devoid of place-making qualities. 

“The road layout and internal site circulation, proposed tree and hedgerow loss, insufficient new structural landscaping  and cramped development dominated by hard landscaping, all combine to create an unacceptably poor approach to commercial site planning.

“It falls well short of the North East Bexhill Design Study objective of an exemplary innovative new type of ‘eco-business park’ based on sustainable design principles of respecting and responding positively to existing landscape and wildlife features.

“The economic benefits of the scheme do not outweigh the landscape, ecological and design concerns and the proposal conflicts with adopted planning policy, set out in more detail in the report.”

The report goes on to say 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. 

As a result, planning officers are recommending the reserved matters application be refused in its current state.

Developers, however, maintain the scheme should be approved, arguing it balances its impact on the landscape with delivering a workable development.

Addressing specific concerns about the loss of trees to create an access road,  a spokesman for Westcott Leach Ltd said: “We firmly believe that there is now a good balance between achieving retention of the most visually important trees along Buckholt Lane, whilst providing a safe and deliverable commercial grade access. 

“The alternative approach will only serve to make the road geometry tighter and more convoluted as it heads south and that the most appropriate area for development in the centre of the site would be severely compromised through the need to remove a large number of buildings.

“In our view, this would represent an inefficient use of the most deliverable part of the site and would render the scheme unworkable for the applicant.”

The application is expected to be decided at a meeting of the planning committee on Thursday, October 10. 

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