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Application number WD/2018/1596/F
Location: 1 WALLSEND ROAD, PEVENSEY, BN24 6AE
Proposal: PROPOSED CONVERSION OF DANCE STUDIO TO 6NO. FLATS WITH TWO STOREY REAR EXTENSIONS AND ADDITIONAL FLOOR

A planning application to turn Anderida House in Pevensey Bay into six flats has been lodged with Wealden Council

Anderida House forms part of the jigsaw that is the 400 year old story of Pevensey Bay.

Built by Martin and Saunders in the early nineteen thirties, the property formed the basis of their promotion of Beachlands and points towards what was to have been ‘a modern town in its entirety’. The building is at a key location and of some note.

The Pevensey Bay Journal (edition 20) in the ‘Big Story’ about the Beach Tavern development suggests, “stand at the crossroads to Coast Road and the Wallsend Road and you will see local history in the making.

“To your left is Anderida House, home to the builders of Beachlands. In front of you is the road to Beachlands.

“The father architect of Beachlands was T. Cecil Howitt, one of the most eminent provincial architects of the 20th century. He was commissioned to sketch the first fifty houses and the gateway layout that we see”.

T. Cecil Howitt went on to build some classic buildings. He was commissioned to design Nottingham’s prestigious new Council House. In 1929 the building was opened by the Prince of Wales, who later become King Edward VIII.

In 1935, he went on to design the Odeon Cinema in Weston-super-Mare, now Grade II listed.

The design and access statement by Challinor Hall Limited, Architectural design about Anderida House fails to say anything about the building.

Under the heading of Design Principles, they copy and paste a paragraph from the Government National Planning Policy Framework.

The story of Martin and Saunders and T. Cecil Howitt and Beachlands fails to get a mention in the Challinor Hall Limited design statement about the building.

Under the heading of social context, they say, “six additional dwellings will be created to aid the government’s desire to boost significantly the supply of housing. The application building contributes to the character and visual amenity of the area”.

In what sense does the building of six flats on this site of note contribute to the “character and visual amenity of the area”?

The character of the area at this reference point was established in the early thirties.

The direction of travel is to Beachlands. A book is waiting to be written. T. Cecil Howitt and Beachlands, his unfinished symphony to the sea, is a story waiting to be told. National recognition of his sketch of a plan at the seaside, ‘the modern town in its entirety’ is overdue.

Will six flats at this point in the village enhance or destroy this part of the story?

In the design statement of the economic context of the building we hear “future occupiers would support the local economy. The building would generate Council Tax and supporting local facilities, services and infrastructure”.

Is what Challinor Hall Limited say in any way useful?

Pevensey Bay is desperate with regard to economic regeneration. What we require is vision, economic and social thinking in context, and most importantly investment.

These principles are current. We can point to good practice in the locality.

In Pevensey, there is the historic Mint House, dating to 1342. The Mint House is sovereign to the economic future of Pevensey.

What is becoming clear is that the restoration of the fortunes of the Mint House will be based on sound thinking. There is to be vision, economic and social thinking in context, and most importantly investment.

An interview with the new owner is to be published in the Pevensey Bay Journal (edition 21, 29 September).

In the case of the application to turn Anderida House into six flats there is already concern in the community.

Pevensey Bay is now comprised of some active and savvy campaigning groups.

The first question with this application will be whether or not the building will be nominated as a community asset.

The vision here could be, for example, the siting of a small museum that could tell the story of Pevensey Bay.

As well as the story of the birth of the Bay, there could be exhibition boards about Innings Cottage, the fishermens cottages, the Victorian cottages in Bay Terrace and the Edwardian seafront The growth of the notion of the particularity of our small seaside location over the last two hundred years coud be told.

The Edwardian seafront is marked by the Guardian in their Let’s Move to Section (18 September 2015). They said, “The seafront at Pevensey Bay might not be Malibu, but it is splendidly eccentric, with Edwardian town houses cheek-by-jowl with shacks and the 1930s-50s bungalow estate of Beachlands.”

A small museum could tell the story of the beaching of the famous Pevensey Whale, and the writers, artists and illustrators with an association with Pevensey Bay. There are reasons why our roads are named after famous pre-Raphaelite figures.

The centrepiece could be the story of T. Cecil Howitt and his commission for Beachlands, his unfinished symphony to the sea.

We were part of the birth of situation comedy in this country. The Goons were here in the fifties. The anarchic radio comedy changed the face of comedy. Shows are littered with references to Pevensey Bay.

We now know much from the book about to be published by Julie Warren, Glarnies, Green Berets & Goons: The Life and Legacy of Larry Stephens.

The first known advertised BBC reference to ‘situation comedy’ was Vacant Lot (1951). The script was written by best friend of Tony Hancock, Larry Stephens. He went on to write parts of the Goon Show. He based the comedy in a place called Churdley Bay, there was a shingle beach and a Martello Tower. There was even a past hotel owner in the script given the name ‘Mr. Pevensey’. We know that Tony Hancock stayed at the Bay Hotel.

There are threads of the story about the birth of situation comedy in this country here. This story may be worth telling. Maybe not the Bayeux Tapestry, but a series of storyboards might well be of interest to both residents and visitors.

Might the National Lottery provide a great madcap grant for the purpose. How does the Great Pevensey Bay Ying Tong Tapestry sound?

Why can not Anderida House become the reference point that marks crossroads to our past in the form of a small museum?

These ideas are just samplers for what could be done with will and vision.

If this will, vision, creativity and investment is coming to Pevensey, then there is no reason to think that the same kind of thinking could not be applied to Pevensey Bay.

Would two small start up units for perhaps some savvy local digital businesses work sitting alongside the small museum as part of a new dedicated space?  Might a foyer gallery dedicated to the work of Michael Stringer, the Oscar nominated set designer who lived here, complete the picture?

Might such an endeavour enhance the character of the locality and become an interesting little mainstay in our economic future?

A failure to investigate the possibility of setting a revitalised Anderida House in the context of the story of Beachlands as a cornerstone to a small museum, for example,  seems to be both a missed opportunity and challenge.

What is planned for Anderida House with this proposal for six flats is not a prospect that will be relished by the people of Pevensey Bay.

There are some unique values here celebrated by many generations of family. As a small coastal community we should be seeing these values celebrated. Such a celebration to our past, present and future would be suited to Anderida House.

If the Mint House is to become a visionary project, with the investment now in place. there is no reason to think that the same path could not be followed by Anderida House here in Pevensey Bay.

Perhaps this proposal will sharpen the sense that something must be done. A number of ideas may emerge.

Turning the site of historic note to the village into six flats would do nothing to promote the social or economic character of Pevensey Bay.

There is something beyond those kinds of ill-thought out proposals that speak personal gain to parish councils, local authorities and planning inspectors. They are both discordant and an affront to communities.

Our publisher, Wealden Counci District Councillor, Dianne Dear, explains the point best. The Beach Tavern development, she suggested, in the Wealden Council webcast planning meeting, is just about greed.

Common sense should prevail.

The sustainability of the fragile infrastructure of the kind that we see in Pevensey Bay should be uppermost in the decision making process.

This thinking is best communicated by planning inspector Sheila Holden and what she said about the proposals for the first application to develop the Beach Tavern site.

Dismissing the application she explained that to work, buildings must have a sense of place.

Copy and pasting a paragraph from a Government National Planning Policy Framework, as Challinor Hall Limited have done in their design statement, will not do.

The poverty of thinking by Challinor Hall Limited in their design statement is abject.

What is hoped is that the proposal to turn Anderida House into six flats will be rejected by Wealden Council and that the developers will not undertake the folly of an appeal.

In the same way that the Mint House is sovereign to the economic future of Pevensey, Anderida House is a vital piece of the jigsaw in the story of Pevensey Bay.

Anderida House most certainly has a sense of place.

What we require is vision, economic and social thinking in context, and most importantly investment.