Convent demolition on agenda

Planning officers are recommending approval of plans to demolish St Michael’s Convent in Uckfield and build 30 flats in two blocks and a 25-place nursery school on the site.

A report to the Wealden planning sub-committee, north, which meets tomorrow, says officers had strongly resisted the loss of the Edwardian convent building, which is pictured above, and Uckfield Town Council had suggested it be listed.

But the building was much altered, with various additions, which meant it didn’t have the quality needed for national listing.

Nor was the building part of a conservation area or the subject of a local listing therefore there was no policy backing for the building to be retained and loss of it could not form a reason for refusal.

The report to tomorrow's meeting says the current scheme was clearly geared to addressing previous reasons for refusal of planning permission to develop the site.

Those reasons included design and massing, adequacy of information relating to trees and ecology, highway safety, access and visibility issues on Old Timbers Lane, lack of a details flooding risk assessment and lack of a mechanism to secure contributions towards the necessary infrastructure off site.

The report acknowledges that development would radically change the form and character of the street scene but says the change should be viewed as an opportunity to achieve a high quality distinctive development at what is in effect the ‘gateway’ into Uckfield.

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