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THIS WEEK Plan to establish Friends Group for Pevensey playgrounds

COMMUNITY PEVENSEY BAY HOLIDAY PARK: Wealden Council refuses permission for use of land

BUSINESS Renovation of Bay Hotel in Pevensey Bay:


New series of essays: Andy Hyde
The Pevensey Bay Journal is to publish a series of ‘Saturday night essays’ by local resident, Andy Hyde. Here he introduces the first of his essays, So This is Progress. The Pevensey Bay Journal (edition 21) is published on Saturday 29 September 2018.
—Bay Life, 6 September 2018

Andy Hyde, The Saturday Night Essay, So This is Progress
Pevensey Bay Journal, edition 21, Saturday 29 September 2018
image credit: Alexa Mazzarello/unsplash: Turn-on desk lamp near typewriter

So is this progress?
Andy Hyde
We watched as big properties were sold and planning applications were submitted. The Thatched House Hotel, the prettiest of properties on the Cheam Road was sold and the next minute it was gone and non-descript blocks of flats loomed ominously over the surrounding houses, Julia’s parents no less, and set a trend that was repeated, and repeated. Where large houses used to occupy a copious site, 3 – 4 – 5 storey flats emerged out of an enlarged footprint and then the blocks sat fat and ugly almost touching, vying for the space it seemed. All vestige of character wiped from the roads. But hey – this was London… Sutton… Banstead… Reigate and Redhill!

We escaped to Pevensey Bay to breathe. We walked on the Crumbles…big expanse of gravel beach, wild scrub, not much there. It was our buffer before Eastbourne. Even in the town you could see where a property hadn’t been so lucky and in its place a towering block emerged. But hey – this was the levels… protected… wild.

And then they started to build. Looking across towards Eastbourne and the Downs beyond you used to be able to imagine that there wasn’t a large town there, lost under the shadow of the hills. But no more. The vast carbuncle that erupted from this overlooked wilderness gave us insight into just which way things would turn for the area. Stonecross, Polegate and the Friday Street sprawled into the fields and countryside. The villages began to look at their boundaries and saw there was an ever shrinking gap. Land sold off by landowners to restore their manor, sold by farmers and businesses to make ends meet…why shouldn’t they? And Hailsham…once quaint market town now has lost all semblance of coherence to infill and spread. Just where are we heading?

The harbour threw up its houses and blocked their views with a circling of four – five storey flats and then those flats were hemmed in by more. Our view around the Bay halts at what is now an eyesore of human intervention citing it as progress. The small school that was built, was extended and then rebuilt again. No heart or services but whatever, many of the properties were holiday homes weren’t they?

And little Pevensey Bay looked on as it began to feel as if Eastbourne would roll towards us. Looking along the coast it is hard not to fear this as we look at Brighton and Hove merging with Worthing and Littlehampton and Bognor. Little Pevensey Bay with its hodgepodge mix of every conceivable building style and age. And hey…isn’t it time for it to move on anyway…come on think of progress!

And so to look at how it’s gone for others what are we looking at for us. A tearing down of the redundant and a provision of the spanking new. Wonderful. Get rid of the eyesores! Let’s throw up these apartments and have done with it? Tear down the shacks, the quaint Sussex style houses and lets build modernist boxes to live in.

*(Heaven praise the new owners of the Gambit who saw fit to reject the Wealden planners go ahead to rip it down.)

And so to our next Waterloo… for the developers are watching.

They are waiting to see which way this small village will turn. And it will only take one. Like the Westham/Stonecross border that looks to be vanishing – development will follow development… You allowed this one why not mine? And so into our historically disjointed mix we bring in the new style… to over pack and cram every possible dwelling into a site, into a village that in the past hasn’t been greedy on its development of space, on its crowding out of sky, for its residents love this place for the way it is not crowded.

The vast majority have rejected the suburbs of London for this place.

Please…we don’t want a developer to dictate the fortunes of this village’s future by opening the floodgates for others to rip the heart out of it and impose their own view of what should be here.

We’ve seen the future in every other seaside town, in planning policy that rapes the countryside of its virgin verdure. To override and overshadow and overcome all opposition by their relentless pressing plans and leaving the building they want to tear down to slowly degrade.

And so in time opinion gradually shifts to put an end to the mess and we open the door for the developers ‘bright’ new utopia under their shadow!

© Andy Hyde, So This is Progress, all rights reserved