Residents will be aware of the long-standing eyesore at Talland Parade caused by the extensive scaffolding surrounding the abandoned construction site.
The last position statement on the issue was posted in October 2018. This statement will update residents on developments and actions since that time.
Continuous efforts have been made by Lewes District Council (the ‘District Council’) to seek information from the owners, to monitor work on the site and seek formal solutions to the problem.
District Council planning and housing officers held meetings with the site owner’s agent in 2019. Various solutions were explored including a negotiated purchase of the site. The agent subsequently produced a schedule giving details of the sub-contractors engaged to work on the site and a timescale leading towards completion of the work later in 2020.
Work was halted by the March 2020 coronavirus lockdown and no work has been carried out since.
The District Council has been actively pursuing a solution to the impasse. It had already been confirmed that the statutory remedy provided to require developers to complete partially implemented schemes was fundamentally flawed. Even the Government had accepted that the remedy was ‘not fit for purpose’.
At the District Council Full Council meeting on 23rd November 2020 Seaford Ward Councillors submitted a formal request to the District Council regarding Talland Parade requesting that :-
1. The (District) Council writes to the developer in the strongest possible terms expressing the anger and frustration of Seaford residents.
2. It be noted that Lewes District Council Officers are engaging with the developer to understand the current stage they are at with the building works and the likely end date, including when the scaffolding will be taken down.
3. It be noted that Officers can only work within current legislation and any information supplied by the developer in relation to these points cannot be binding and prosecution for non-adherence is not possible.
4. Lewes District Council write to the Secretary of State for Housing, Communities and Local Government requesting urgent attention to this area of the Law to enable Planning Enforcement Officers to require developers to carry out work within agreed timescales on behalf of local communities.
The response of the District Council’s Cabinet Member for Planning and Regeneration was that officers would continue to work to address the issues on site, including the actions requested in relation to writing to the developer. Officers had given assurances that the site was subject to regular inspections and was up to date with building control safety standards. However, the Cabinet Member confirmed they would write to the Government to request the additional powers required for councils to take enforcement action in these circumstances, and advised that the Chief Executive would report back to a future Cabinet meeting on the actions taken.
The local MP has also been involved in representations to the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government.
The Cabinet Member reported back to the District Council’s Cabinet on 4th February 2021 that:-
Officers have corresponded with the developer outlining the desire for redevelopment/conversion works to be completed as soon as is practicable to do so and more importantly that the scaffolding be taken down at the earliest opportunity. In addition, officers have requested an update from the developer following the Christmas break, a response is expected although not yet received. A response has been sent to the Secretary of State requesting changes to the current legislation that could enable councils to take more appropriate action.
The Cabinet Member has confirmed recently that negotiations with the developers and the relevant ministry are ongoing.
The Town Council’s Planning & Highways Committee considered a report on the case at its meeting on Tuesday 25th May 2021.
The Committee resolved to request a meeting with the District Council to discuss a joint approach to securing a permanent solution to the problem.
The Committee considered that the case was so important to the town’s wellbeing that Town Council officers should be directly involved in the discussions rather than having to rely on reports back from the District Council.
At the time of writing this statement, this resolution will be forwarded to the District Council and a response awaited. Residents will be kept updated.