Retrospective plans for Hastings new build home refused

A controversial retrospective planning application has been refused by Hastings councillors despite warnings from council officers. 

Monday, 12th April 2021, 3:21 pm

On Wednesday (April 7), Hastings Borough Council’s planning committee turned down an application connected to a newbuild home, built on former garden land in Martineau Lane.

The applicant had been given planning permission to build the house in 2017, but it was not built in accordance with those approved plans, with the new application seeking retrospective permission for these changes.

According to council papers, the changes include the addition of an extra ground floor room, additional windows and changes to land levels, which left more of the property unobscured. 

Approved application top, revised application bottom
Approved application top, revised application bottom

Complicating matters further is the fact that the applicant had sought permission for very similar changes through a previous application, which had been turned down by council planners due to concerns over its impact on the AONB and land stability. 

A representative of the applicant, however, said the changes had arisen due to issues with the approved access, which prevented cars from entering the driveway unless a bank of land was removed.

The applicant also provided evidence on land stability issue, which officers felt discounted this previous ground for objection and resulted in a recommendation for approval.

These circumstances surrounding the development was not lost on committee members, however.

Cllr Andy Patmore (Con) said: “I think that the current application that is before us is very very similar to the [previous] application. 

“That was refused because of [planning policies] DM1 protection and enhancement of local character and EN7 conservation and enhancement of landscape, including the High Weald Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty.

“I don’t think the applicant has demonstrated that the application that is before us today is any different from the application that was refused before.”

Following further discussion the scheme was refused on the grounds that the changes resulted in the site having an undue impact on the AONB

The decision came despite warnings from officers that the council was thought unlikely to win should the refusal be taken to appeal.

Eleanor Evans, the council’s head of planning, said: “It is unfortunate how the applicant has approached the development of this site. We would have preferred they come to us each time they make a change so that it could go through the correct process.

“They didn’t do that and it was quite hard work frankly with these developers and I know the neighbours have been nothing but patient.

“But the point I was making before is that the changes we are talking about are not something that I would be comfortable arguing at appeal if this application were refused. I think if it were refused I think we would be looking at costs and we would lose.”

This view was not shared by the majority of committee members, however.

Cllr Warren Davies (Lab), who said: “There is no point having an inspectorate and planning committees if we are not mindful of what they are saying about having nothing which would detract from the natural setting and that any application should be subject to the express authorisation of the local planning authority. 

“I don’t feel that this has been brought to the express authorisation of the local planning authority, because that is why we are having this discussion and also why we have been put in the invidious position where we are having to weigh up what feels to be the sense of natural justice and whether we are going to win this or not on appeal.” 

For further information see application reference HS/FA/20/00884 on the Hastings Borough Council website.