Planning inspector overturns refusal of Sussex industrial scheme

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Proposals for a development on the Bexhill Enterprise Park in East Sussex, which could support up to 500 local jobs, can move forward after a planning inspector has ruled Rother District Council was wrong to reject the scheme

Sea Change Sussex had proposed to develop a supporting access road and provide the necessary utilities.

Rother District Council’s planning committee refused planning permission in October 2019 for a reserved matters application for business development on the Bexhill Enterprise Park.

Industrial property developer Westcott Leach had proposed a set of light industrial units covering around 84,000 sq ft of floor space with associated parking and landscaping.

Sea Change Sussex had already obtained outline planning permission for the scheme in May 2018.

The Inspector found in favour of Wescott Leach and Sea Change Sussex on all counts. She highlighted flaws in the case presented by Rother District Council, including arguments based on incorrect plans and failures to take account of current government planning guidance.

The developers have expressed remaining concerns about the timescales for moving ahead because Rother District Council has advised it may take up to 150 days for its determination of the planning condition discharges, in addition to five-week planning validation delays.

Address these issues as a “matter of urgency”

Sea Change Sussex and Westcott Leach expressed gratitude for the “clear and decisive guidance provided by the Inspector in her decision.” They stated: “While it’s regrettable that the benefits of the scheme have been delayed by over 26 months – despite our repeated efforts to resolve the issues prior to the planning committee decision and the costly appeal process – we remain committed to delivery of the scheme and hope to start construction as soon as possible.

“We hear these delays are affecting many applicants in the area, with the council having already suspended pre-application planning services.

“We’d encourage Rother District Council to address these issues as a matter of urgency so they don’t impact local construction jobs and employment.”

Chamber president, Howard Martin, added: “The appeal outcome is important for all businesses in the area. The planning processes at Rother District Council have been moribund for far too long and have blocked investment at all levels in our community – both domestic and business.

“We’re pleased Sea Change Sussex and Westcott Leach committed their resources and expertise into fighting the case, hopefully to make the planning processes quicker and more effective for everyone.”

The Bexhill Chamber of Commerce supported the appeal against the planning decision.

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