Pledging support for affordable housing


Bexhill Heritage has come out in support of the Council’s proposal to help the homeless reported in last week’s Observer. Pledging its full support for more affordable housing in the town, the charity has even come up with a plan to convert one of Bexhill’s finest Edwardian houses – Cemetery Lodge in St Mary’s Lane – into three attractive homes.

“We’re keen to preserve Bexhill’s heritage buildings”, says Raymond Konyn, the charity’s Chairman, “but it’s important that these fine buildings are put to good use for the benefit of the community. Our own recent professional survey shows that, even after years of neglect, Cemetery Lodge is structurally sound. It can be ‘made good’ and converted quite easily into three much-needed affordable homes. There’s even scope for three additional homes in its large overgrown garden.”

Bexhill Heritage’s recommendations will be considered by Rother District Council’s Cabinet next Monday alongside a proposal to demolish the Lodge. Bexhill Heritage is asking the Cabinet to defer their decision to allow the Council time to meet with the charity’s professional consultants.

“It would be a huge mistake to demolish one of Bexhill’s finest Edwardian buildings.”, says Raymond Konyn. “We’ve the opportunity to respect our heritage while, at the same time, extending our housing stock. Giving the Lodge a new lease of life makes such good sense.” Full details of the Rother Executive Director’s report to the Cabinet can be found on the Rother District Council website under the Cabinet agenda for Monday 5th November 2018.

Published on Friday 2nd November 2018 by the Bexhill Observer, page 2.

Leaders defer decision on historc site’s future

Rother council leaders have agreed to put back a decision on plans to build affordable housing on the site of an Edwardian building in Bexhill.

At a meeting on Monday (November 5), Rother District Council’s cabinet agreed to defer making a decision on proposals concerning the Cemetery Lodge building in St Mary’s Lane, as result of a request put forward by the historical preservation charity Bexhill Heritage.
Prior to the deferral, the council had been recommended to hand over the council-owned building to the soon-to-be-established Bexhill Community Land Trust – a group which aims to build or buy affordable housing in the town.
However, during the meeting, cabinet member for housing Joy Hughes, who is also a member of the land trust’s steering committee, proposed the decision be deferred until further consultation could take place.
She said: “I must commend the steering committee for all the hard work they have done. We met for many, many weeks and went through this with a fine tooth comb and were quite happy with what we had resolved at the end of it.
“However as it stands at the moment, we know that Bexhill Heritage particularly have not had an opportunity to look inside the building. They have seen the outside and their recommendation on how much it would cost to build the outside is, to me, quite unacceptable.
“I would be quite happy for the decision to be deferred pending discussions with Bexhill Heritage on Cemetery Lodge and further investigation into alternative sites for a community-led housing scheme.
“Community-led housing is a fantastic scheme, I don’t want to feel that we ever get to the point where we lose sight of the fact there is money coming in on that area. I just hope people realise how much we need affordable housing in Bexhill.”

While the land trust has not yet been legally incorporated, its steering group had agreed to pursue plans to demolish the Cemetery Lodge building and build an eight-home affordable housing scheme in its place.
According to council reports, the steering group had also considered an alternative four-dwelling scheme which would retain and extend building instead. However the steering committee considered this scheme less satisfactory as it would be less ‘cost-effective’ and provide fewer houses, council reports said.

Bexhill Heritage is understood to be putting forward its own alternative plans to convert the building into three homes and, potentially, build three more in its surrounding site.
Any of the proposals would need to gain planning permission before work could begin.
Following a short discussion, cabinet members unanimously agreed to defer making any decision on the site until further talks could take place with both Bexhill Heritage and the Bexhill Old Town Preservation Society.

Welcoming the decision, a Bexhill Heritage spokesman said: “Cemetery Lodge is a fine Edwardian building with huge potential for conversion into attractive family homes.
“Until last Monday’s Cabinet meeting the Lodge’s future looked grim, but councillors have shown courage and wisdom in deciding not to approve a recommendation to demolish this structurally-sound heritage building.
“We are delighted that, instead, councillors are seeking solutions that offer much-needed homes while also respecting Bexhill’s heritage.
“Bexhill Heritage’s officers and consultants will now be working in partnership with Rother District Council to an outcome that is attractive and cost-effective.
“We’ll be meeting with officers from the council next week and we’re confident that, by working in partnership, we can come up with a scheme within which a restored and extended lodge can enjoy a new lease of life helping to provide excellent homes for local people.”

Published on Friday 9th November 2018 by the Bexhill Observer, page 2.