Controversial housing plans in Sussex turned down Brighton News

In a decision notice published on Tuesday (September 19), a planning inspector has dismissed a pair of appeals connected with plans to build housing on a parcel of undeveloped land in Newts Way, St Leonards.

The schemes — one for a large single family home and another for a terrace of four houses — had been proposed and designed by Elsie Owusu, a prominent black British architect best known for co-leading the refurbishment of the UK’s Supreme Court.

Both proposals had been refused by Hastings Borough Council’s planning committee in November 2021, on grounds including the loss of open space and ‘unsympathetic modern design’.

Ms Owusu took issue with the council’s decision at the time, saying the authority had applied government guidelines ‘selectively’ and ‘unfairly’, in a way that amounted to “institutional discrimination”.

Ultimately, however, the inspector also had concerns about the scheme.

In their decision notice, the inspector said: “Both Appeal A and Appeal B would result in the introduction of a substantial built form along the northern side of the site which would divide the appeal site from the neighbouring playground and sit centrally among the belt of green and open space.

“This would be in stark contrast with, and appear incongruous with the open and verdant character. In this respect, and given the scale and continuous width of the built form proposed across the site, the harm to the character of the immediate area in both cases would be substantial.”

The inspector said this harm would come alongside ‘unacceptable living conditions’ for potential residents of the four-home scheme (appeal B). 

These harms, the inspector said, would outweigh the benefits of both schemes. As a result, the appeals were dismissed. 

Ms Owusu had also made an application for the council to pay her appeal costs, arguing the authority had acted unreasonably in its handling of the proposals and appeal process. This application was also dismissed.

This included the council’s description of a petition against development as ‘significant local opposition’. While the inspector said such a description was not ‘necessary’ — also noting that committee members would have been aware of the petitioners addresses either way — they did not consider this to be ‘unreasonable’ behaviour. 

It was also argued there were inaccuracies in the council’s case. The inspector said specific examples of factual errors leading to unnecessary or wasted expense had “not been evidenced”, however.

As previously reported, Ms Owusu had sought crowdfunding towards the costs of her planning appeal. 

For further information see application references HS/FA/20/00959 and HS/FA/20/00715 on the Hastings Borough Council website.

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This notice was published: 2023-09-22 04:00:00

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