A Planning Inspector has dismissed an appeal by a developer to demolish Harecombe Manor, because “the design of the replacement building is lacking”.
ICON Design and Build applied for planning permission in 2017 to demolish the Victorian home to make way for 45 “extra care” apartments and communal facilities, including a lounge, garden terrace and mobility buggy store. Amended plans were submitted during the application process, to reduce the number of apartments to 40.
Harecombe Manor, opposite Crowborough Hospital on Southview Road, was constructed in around 1903 as a country house for the banker John Kirkwood. It was used as a auxiliary hospital during the First World War, a children’s home and until it closed in 2016 a nursing home.
Wealden District Council rejected planning permission in April 2018.
The developer submitted a revised scheme for dealing with foul and surface water and revising plans addressing concerns about insufficient on-site parking.
On 22nd January, a Government-appointed Planning Inspector held a hearing to consider matters relating to the character and appearance of Harecombe Manor on the surrounding area, the design of the replacement building and effect of the proposed development on neighbouring properties.
In his report Tom Gilbert-Wooldridge states the “use of a flat roof design would be at odds with the prevailing character and appearance of the area” and “the design would be in stark contrast with many of the surrounding buildings”.
His report also states that “it has not been adequately demonstrated that the condition and layout of the existing building is so poor that it is beyond refurbishment and re-use”. He goes on any new build would “need to be of sufficient quality to justify the loss of Harecombe Manor”.
You can read the Inspector’s report on the Wealden District Council’s website under “View Documents”, the report is dated 12/02/2019: planning.wealden.gov.uk.