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COMMUNITY The One and Only Tom Fitzpatrick is Back: Ocean View, Pevensey Bay


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beach tavern, image credit, jan barronn

IMAGE CREDIT: Jan Barron

Freedom of Information Act request reveals plan to sell Beach Tavern site to become upmarket restaurant in 2016

As the community prepares to fight another year long campaign against a second possible application to develop the site of the Beach Tavern into ‘the white elephant’ of a luxury flat complex, there is much at stake.—Bay Life, 20 May 2018

A Freedom of Information request, undertaken in March 2016, with regard to the nomination of the Beach Tavern in Pevensey Bay as a community asset, has revealed that owners of the site planned a re-sale to new owners.

The plan with the re-sale was the re-furbishment of the premises to found an upmarket restaurant.

Alex Colbran, Policy Offier for Wealden Council says in the revealed correpondence (11 January 2016), “Owners of the Beach Tavern have sent us a response today (attached)”.

The terms of the Freedom of Information Act require that the document described as ‘attached’ is also revealed.

Bay Life has always believed that the establishment of a new economic role for the character building is something that is both possible and viable.

Contact about the possible role of a major hospitality concern, in May 2018, has also confirmed that there is interest in the building for a similar venture.

Over the last two years we would argue that there is demonstrable evidence that interest has increased.

Such an economic development ould have a positive significant impact on the regeneration of business profiling in Pevensey Bay.

The revelation that the current owners of the site, held the same view in 2016 is noteworthy.

This view appears to have been shared by a prospective new owner.

What is explained in the letter to Wealden Council, by the owners of the site, calls into question much about what has been said about the economic viability of the building.

The revelation throws fresh light on the question of the future of the pivotal character building that will determine much about the future direction of Pevensey Bay.

As the community prepares to fight another year long campaign against a second possible application to develop the site into a luxury flat complex, there is much at stake.

John Davey, resident Pevensey Bay for 38 years said (2 May 2017) “my response is unprintable. I can not believe that they don’t get that we don’t want that great big monstrosity there. It is totally out of character for the area and for Pevensey Bay.

“They are just not listening to anybody. The bottom line is that it is all about money and greed, plus who would want to live in a 1950s East German prison type camp build anyway. We don’t want them touted as holiday flats because it would be empty for most of the year and it would not do the businesses here any good.

“I am angry in the way that they are just not listening to the concerns of people, as long as they are making money and lining their own pockets, that is their concern.

“They are not worried that people down here will have to put up with that great big white elephant.

“All that is missing for these plans is the barbed wire, the watchtowers, the searchlights, armed guards and dogs”.

Sheila Holden, the Inspector who wrote the report dismissing the appeal on behalf of the Inspectorate gave her view about the planned development

“Its overall width, depth, mass and bulk would dominate the site and appear out of scale with other nearby buildings. Its angular shape would also be incongruous and incompatible with the surrounding street scene.

“In my view when seen in the context of the surrounding development, the building would appear alien and out of place on this prominent and important site in the village”. (Reasons for Decision point 9).

Noteworthy in her decision is the perception that applications should ensure that developments establish a strong sense of place.

The revelation that the current owners of the Beach Tavern also held a positive enough view about the economic viability of the site in 2016 to consider a re-sale and that such a sale was at an advanced stage with negotiations with a company, places what has been said subsequently with their application in a new light.

Bay Life believes that if the choice is between the development of an upmarket restaurant on the re-furbished site of this characterful building and the knocking down of the building to develop what long term resident, John Davey, describes as a “1950s East German prison type camp”, then there is no contest.

Bay Life will publish the letter sent to Wealden Council by the current owners of the site in January 2016, revealed through a Freedom of Information request, in full, in the forthcoming edition of the Pevensey Bay Journal.

A simple question for the current owners.

If they believe that the site is economically viable and could become an upmarket restaurant, are they seriously expecting the community to lie down and not fight a second application for a flat complex?

The proposed development has been described as “a great big white elephant” by long term resident, John Davey and ‘alien” by planning inspector Sheila Holden

The plan has the potential to presage what at least one resident has described as ‘the beginning of the end for the village’.

We would argue that an upmarket restaurant based at the Beach Tavern would have, in the words of planning inspector Sheila Holden, “a strong sense of place’.