Controversial plans to convert a former Eastbourne care home have been approved at appeal. 

In a decision notice published on Thursday (May 2), a planning inspector has  approved retrospective proposals for an 11-bedroom House in Multiple Occupation (HMO) at 13 Gorringe Road — a building which had formed part of a care home known as The Shires.

Eastbourne planners had refused the scheme in June last year on the grounds it would be an ‘over intensive use’ of the building, which would impact on neighbours. Councillors at the time had also raised concerns about its impact on the character of the area, density and the amenity of people living in the HMO, but these did not form part of the reasons for refusal. 

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At the time, officers (who had recommended approval) had warned the refusal would be unlikely to succeed at appeal. This proved to be true, with the planning inspector concluding in favour of the scheme.

In their decision notice, the inspector said: “The property provides 11 bedrooms, each intended for single occupancy. While this is likely to be a higher level of occupation than that of the nearby family dwellings, it is below that of the nursing home which previously occupied the building. 

“The previous use included 13 bedrooms within the appeal site and staff and visitors would also have been present on a regular basis.”

They added: “I conclude that the development would not have an unacceptable effect on living conditions for the occupiers of nearby properties. 

“As such, it does not conflict with relevant requirements in [local planning policies]. These policies, amongst other things, require that development safeguards the amenity of existing residents, taking into account issues including noise, general disturbance, cleanliness and odour.”

In granting planning permission, the planning inspector set a number of conditions intended to limit the HMO’s impact on the surrounding area. These included a maximum occupancy of 11 people (one per bedroom) and a minimum stay of three months.  

For further information on the proposals see application reference 220961 on the Eastbourne Borough Council website.