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How the five-storey replacement proposed for Park Beck will look (image: Proposed Elevations 445-262).

How the five-storey replacement proposed for Park Beck will look (image: Proposed Elevations 445-262).

Changes to Park Beck application cause concern

Regal Care Homes and its developer, Penson have amended their proposal for an ’extra care home’ at 21 Upper Maze Hill, suggesting that this makes it more acceptable to local residents who objected to the original proposal. However, the planning department does not intend to test this claim by reconsulting. This is one of a number of concerns which have arisen over the handling of the amended proposal. Nick Terdre reports.

Under the new proposal the size of the building with which Regal intends to replace the existing Park Beck care home has been reduced from seven to five storeys, with a consequent decrease in the number of apartments from 52 to 35 or 29, while the roof has been changed from flat to pitched.

“It has been decided that a building with a reduced scale would be more in keeping with the surrounding area of the site and improved amenity to our neighbour [sic],” the applicants explain in the Schedule of Amendment dated 18 October.

The Statement of Community Involvement also comments on the redesign. After mentioning that a letter had been received from a neighbouring property, expressing concern about the scale of the original proposal, it states, “…however we believe the fact that the building will be lowered has not been taken into consideration…” The mystery here is that this document is dated 6 June, more than four months before the redesign was tabled.

Just how many flats?

Documents filed in support of the amended proposal are unclear as to how many flats are entailed. Several, including the new design and access statement prepared by Penson say there will be 35, and this appears to be the generally accepted number. But according to the planning statement written by Bryan Jezeph Consultancy, it is 29, though this document also refers at one point to 52, the original number.

This confusion raises the question that, if the applicant and its supporting companies are not clear on this matter, how can the planning department and local residents be?

Concerns about both the amended proposal and the lack of consultation have been expressed by Chris Lewcock, chairman of Hastings Urban Design Group.

“The design has been amended to cut the number of storeys from seven to five and to reduce the number of flats from 52 to 35,” he told HOT. “Nevertheless the height and bulk of the structure would still be heavily over-dominant in the street scene and for the neighbours to the side and rear.

Park Beck as it is - a "characterful house," according to Chris Lewcock.

Park Beck as it is – a “characterful house,” according to Chris Lewcock.

“The appearance of the building is a crude and heavy pastiche of pseudo-Victorian architectural features. In scale and form and detailing, it would be an unacceptable intrusion into the existing Conservation Area. The development still results in the unnecessary loss of an existing characterful house which, with care, could be extended and refurbished.”

No further consultation

An amended proposal on this scale would normally be the subject of further consultation, according to Mr Lewcock. He himself had requested the planning department to do this, but to no avail. “This is unfortunate for two reasons,” he said. “It’s unlikely, but some people might have wanted to write in to support the amendments. They have been denied this chance and the developers have been denied their possible support.

“On the other hand, adjoining owners may have wanted to make quite clear why they may have different objections to this very different scheme, so that their views are taken fully taken into account.

“This could be important if the Council is considering refusal. The Council has to make sure that all relevant reasons are put forward in case the developer, as they are entitled to do, takes the matter to appeal.

“Neighbours often draw attention to matters which a busy case officer might miss.”

Status of original objections

It is also unclear whether the objections lodged against the original proposal will still be taken into account. In many respects the applicants’ original case remains unchanged.

These include their claim that the existing building is of little architectural merit, though their credentials for making this judgement appear thin in the light of their inability to determine the provenance of the building – they variously describe it as either Edwardian or circa 1930s, while both the Burtons’ St Leonards Society and the Victorian Society attest that it is Victorian.

The applicants’ claim that the neglect of the building is a good reason for knocking it down is also widely contested – it is the owner itself, after all, which is responsible for the neglect.


See also An application of low standards

Posted 10:01 Wednesday, Nov 30, 2016 In: Home Ground


Please read our comment guidelines before posting on HOT

  1. beccy mccray

    Hi there – is there anything else that residents of Upper Maze Hill can do to object against this? We’ve already written to object about the initial proposal, but it looks like all the points we raised are being totally overruled. Outrageous that the council are allowing this to happen in the conservation area!

    Comment by beccy mccray — Thursday, Dec 1, 2016 @ 12:19

  2. Andy Ammo

    This incoherent application should have been sent back long ago. (Does the Council’s ‘Validation Team’ ever do that?) How many units on six-inch foundations are proposed? And where is the Conservation Officer’s assessment?

    Comment by Andy Ammo — Wednesday, Nov 30, 2016 @ 14:11

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