Updated on February 4, 2016
Planning permisson has been granted for the conversion of two office blocks in Uckfield to homes.
Approval has been given for Oakridge House, New Town, and Sussex House, Grange Road, writes Paul Watson.
One of the conditions of approval is that the development of five flats does not begin until Wealden council has approved a scheme to mitigate additional recreational pressures on the Ashdown Forest.
A similar condition with reference to the Ashdown Forest was attached to the plan for four flats at Sussex House.
Uckfield Town Council plans committee had expressed concerns about parking for this application, although it supported approval.
In reply to the town council, Wealden said:
“Parking provision does exist for six vehicles which would be reduced to one vehicle per flat to aid maneuverability.
“Further reducing the demand for parking is the sustainably located position so as to reduce the need for reliance upon motor vehicles.
“The residential use welcomed by the council would in exchange represent a less intensive use of the site where traffic and parking demands are concerned.”
Our orignal story on September 28, 2015
Two Uckfield office buildings could be turned into flats. Plans have been submitted for five in one building and four in another.
The offices are at Oakridge House, New Town, currently occupied by MJB Architecture, and at Sussex House in Grange Road.
In each case documents submitted with the planning applications say demand for office space of the nature contained in the buildings is “extremely low”.
They say Oakridge House has been marketed for 12 months with only a small number of enquiries for purchase or occupation by tenants.
And they say current occupants of Sussex House are nearing the end of their tenure with little chance of it being re-let for the same use within a reasonable period.
Documents submitted with each application also mention a Court of Appeal judgement which led to change to the approach of Wealden Council towards development close to the Ashdown Forest Special Protection Area.
They acknowledge developer contributions towards Strategic Access Management and Monitoring Strategy (SAMMS) and Suitable Alternative natural Green Space (SANGS) are likely to be imposed towards the developments.
During conversion of Oakridge House to five flats there would be little change to the outside of the building. It would be refurbished and some existing elements would be replaced with matching components, such as rainwater goods. Some of the windows and the existing stepped approach to the main entrance would be adapted to allow a ramped access.
Documents say commercial activity has generally reduced in New Town in the past 25 years through the conversion of a number of commercial premises into flats.
The property was built in the late 1950s as a single dwelling called Stenoak House.
It was subsequently used as offices for a local estate agent and then during the 80s and 90s it was occupied by a fencing company which undertook numerous alterations and additions to increase the size of the offices to form the current arrangement.
In the late 90s that company ceased trading and the building became a suite of serviced offices for individual companies.
The building was bought by MJB Architecture in late 2002 and internal arrangements were altered to enable it to be used as an architectural practice.
The planning statement says: “The direction of the business and changes in technology mean that the building is no longer required in its current form and the practice has secured planning consent for a modern new build office elsewhere within the district.”
Sussex House was built in the late 80s and has housed a number of different tenants, including a period during 2005-2010 which is was occupied by the applicants, Mid Sussex Homes.
“Following their relocation elsewhere in the town the building has never been used to its full capacity,” the planning statement says.
In converting the building to four flats there would be minimal change to the external fabric of the building or the external areas, the planning statement says.