A PLANNING expert told a public inquiry into the former Hastings College site the scheme to build 150 homes “goes against the grain.”
Eimear Murphy, a planning, conservation and design consultant, was giving evidence on the first day of the hearing at the Magnet Centre in London Road, St Leonards.
She said the scheme was imposing and was at odds with the prevailing pattern of buildings in the area.
In June, Gladedale’s bid to build 150 homes on the site in Archery Road was thrown out by the borough’s planning
The scheme attracted more than 600 letters of objection and four petitions against it, among the highest numbers ever received by the council.
It was turned down for not being in sympathy with the appearance of the area, not displaying high quality distinctive architecture and being of poor design.
The inquiry was being conducted by Government planning inspector Katie Peerless.
A packed conference room at the centre heard from Clive Newberry QC who was representing Gladedale.
He said: “We say the increase in the land size is itself an enhancement to the area.
“There is nothing in Government legislation that says it is offensive to be able to see buildings in a conservation area.
“We will be recommending that you grant permission.”
The first resident to give evidence was David Pringle who lives in Archery Court in Archery Road.
He told the hearing: “My problem is the parking aspect.
“When the development is done there will be town houses bordering Archery Road.
“It means nobody can park in the road because you need to allow access people in the town houses.
“There is not enough parking for the residents who live there now. I suggest 25 to 30 spaces would be lost.”
Martin Cooper, also of Archery Road, said: “We need a development in keeping with the area with affordable houses for families. But this is maximising density for profit.
“It would be an absolute tragedy in what is one of the residential joys of the St Leonards area. We know you want to make money but please do not do it at the expense of a beautiful part of St Leonards.”
Miss Murphy was brought in as a witness by the borough council’s barrister Robert Walton.
Mr Walton asked her: “What is the problem with this scheme?”
While examing a replica model of the proposed buildings, she said: “Blocks A and B will appear as an overwhelming and looming mass to a pedestrian.
“I would consider the impact of the blocks will be a very dominating and closing element.”
When asked about the overall impact on the character in a conservation area, Miss Murphy replied: “I do think the scheme goes against the grain.
“This scheme is imposing and in my mind there is no prevailing of the character established by the Burtons.”
The hearing is expected to last until Monday.