Third bid to demolish disused Bexhill church for flats

St Andrews Church SUS-140827-171557001
St Andrews Church SUS-140827-171557001

A developer is trying for a third time to demolish a disused church in Bexhill and replace it with a block of flats.

Chameleon Refurbishments wants to knock down St Andrew’s Church on Wickham Avenue and build a ‘contemporary’ four-storey building with 10 flats plus parking spaces.

St Andrew's Church interior on a postcard. Photo courtesy of Carole Woodland SUS-161212-130608001

St Andrew's Church interior on a postcard. Photo courtesy of Carole Woodland SUS-161212-130608001

Two previous attempts to partially-demolish the Victorian church, which closed in December, 2011, were withdrawn due to concerns about the loss of a heritage site.

The proposal was made public on Thursday (December 8) and two people have already submitted comments outlining their objections to destroy the church.

Clifford Picking, of Wilton Road, said: “This lovely church should be kept as part of Bexhill’s history.

“I don’t mind if the church is developed into a dwelling keeping the facade.

“But to destroy this building would be a great loss to the area.”

Janet Thorne, of Wickham Avenue, said she would rather see the church converted rather than putting 10 ‘ugly’ flats there.

“We should be protecting these buildings and not destroying them,” she wrote.

St Leonards developers Chameleon wants to replace the church with eight two-bed and two one-bed flats with access from Wickham Avenue and 14 parking spaces.

The two previous applications, in 2014 and 2015, proposed to only destroy part of the church, leaving the facade, and both were withdrawn before Rother District Council (RDC) assessed them.

Both caused uproar in the neighbourhood with many residents voicing concerns about the loss of the heritage asset, as well as pressures on parking, the impact of the new building and water drainage.

A petition signed by 243 objectors from Wickham Avenue and the surrounding area was submitted to RDC against the bid.

The Victorian Society also objected to the previous application on the basis of the harm caused to the conservation area.

But the developer wants to get rid of the whole church and argues the replacement will make a ‘positive contribution’ to the area’s character and provide ‘much-needed’ housing.

“We consider that, while there would be some harm with the loss of a nondesignated heritage asset, there is no realistic prospect of the building being viably used consistent with its conservation,” Chameleon’s planning statement says.

“In making a balanced judgement on the loss of the heritage asset, the LPA [local planning authority] is invited to conclude that the replacement building will make a positive contribution to local character and distinctiveness while providing much needed additional housing (a public benefit) in a sustainable location which weighs in favour of the development.”

The building, completed in 1900, was designed by architect J.B. Wall, who also constructed the Colonnade in front of the De La Warr Pavilion.

To view the application click here

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