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Wealden Council to discuss the Beach Tavern site this coming Thursday (5 September)

Bay Life understands that the future of the Beach Tavern site will form part of that discussion.

We have seen a record of a conversation between a council officer and a resident in Pevensey Bay that took place in the last ten days. A suggestion is made in the conversation that, “there is to be meeting held of 5 September at which the council is to discuss the Beach Tavern site”.

The record of the conversation offered to us by a local resident makes clear what was disclosed to her and her husband, as she listened on speakerphone.

She told Bay Life (2 September), “we live [location given] and we have become concerned about the state of the Property. My husband decided to call Wealden Planning Office and ask what was going on with the Planning Application as it has been some months since the application and objections were lodged and he was told that there was a Planning Meeting on the 5th September where the Beach Tavern is on the agenda and that the Meeting was open to the Public”.

She added, talking about the conversation with the Wealden Council officer, that her husband had posed a question, “does this mean where it has gone on for so long that some of the objections may have expired !!”. We understand that the Wealden council officer gave the impression that, as the resident put things to us “she didn’t know or wouldn’t say”.

The resident also added, talking about the communication made by her husband, “when he rang, Ralph Forder was on holiday, he always seems to be on holiday. I would be interested if you can find out anymore”.

We can find no record of a Wealden Council meeting to take place on 5 September that is open to the public. All such meetings have to be in the public domain and posted well in advance of the date and time (21 days notice must be given).

Given what has been said by a Wealden Council Officer to the resident here in Pevensey Bay, we are left to wonder if the discussion this coming Thursday is a preliminary exchange of information, possibly in relation to a report by a council officer on whether to recommend approval or not of the current application.

The Wealden Council meeting this Thursday, can only be a matter of supposition, but we do now know that the Beach Tavern will be discussed.

We have every reason to believe that the community is about to find out more about the fate of the Beach Tavern site.

Of course we have no way of knowing if Wealden Council will reject the application or approve the application, having said that, further information does appear to be imminent.

We note that there is a meeting of the Planning South Committee (the committee responsible for the planning decision and the Beach Tavern) on Thursday 12 September, which is open to the public.

The agenda, according to the Wealden Council website, will be displayed in the week before the meeting. We are days away from seeing if the Beach Tavern proposal appears on the agenda.

The story of what will happen with the Beach Tavern site has been of great concern to the community for two and a half years.

The stakes are very high for the village.

After two and a half years, the site is rotting in front of the eyes of the community.

On 6 May 2019, Bay Life said “The question of the Beach Tavern site will one day be resolved.

“This is the third effort by the owner to plant in Pevensey Bay something so alien that the local landscape would be changed forever if the scheme were to go ahead.

“The proposal was a grotesque example of overdevelopment with no sense of place, no relationship with the locality.

“With the second application the owner, with a new architect, made some adjustments with the look of the building, but we still saw three storeys with the application.

“Essentially what persisted was a dismal pretence in terms of ‘listening to the community’. The grotesque scale of what was planned was the same. Hiding the building behind what appeared to be a giant palm tree at the front did not hide the fact that the elephant was still in the room.

“Sheila Holden, the inspector who wrote the report dismissing the appeal on behalf of the Inspectorate, with the first application said that the main question was the effect of the proposal on the character and appearance of the area.

“In her conclusion she said, the Framework also advises that planning decisions should ensure that developments establish a strong sense of place, which will function well and add to the overall quality of an area over the long term.

“The second application was no more connected to the community than the first application. A huge palm tree had been stuck in place at the front in the public sketch provided.

“In the third proposal, the essential difference is not in scale, but in the shrinking of the size of the flats proposed. The three storey scale of the proposed project remains.

“Bay Life says that this third iteration of a building has no sense of place and that the application should be dismissed.

“Martin Beeney, whose family live just 8.6 metres away from the proposed development appeared to sense the view of the community.

“On 8 May 2017 he said, “it will be the beginning of the end for the village if this building goes ahead”.

“Bay Life is opposed to this third development proposal because there is no evidence at all that the developer has listened to the community.

“Most certainly what has persisted is a dismal pretence in terms of ‘listening to the community’.

“What has been manifestly clear to many people in the community, since the beginning with regard to this application, is that the proposal would add nothing and take away so much.

“Without a strong sense of place that adds to the overall quality of the area, the Beach Tavern proposal for a three storey development continues to be of immense concern to the community”

Wealden Council was invited to respond to this story.

In a statement made to Bay Life (3 September), a spokesman for Wealden Council said, “there is a current planning application, WD/2018/1320/F, which was submitted in July 2018 proposing redevelopment of the Beach Tavern in Pevensey Bay. This application is awaiting a decision.

“Should the application be reported to Planning Committee, which is a meeting the public may attend, then local residents who have responded on the application will be notified. We would also like to assure those residents that their comments will be taken into account and noted in any report, regardless of how long ago they were submitted. Hopefully this gives reassurance that those comments are valid, and have not expired, in consideration of this proposal”.