Plans to convert a Grade-II listed barn and three outbuildings in Etchingham into seven holiday lets have been given the go ahead, despite strong public opposition.
Rother District Council received 55 letters of objection to the application to transform New House Farm in Sheepstreet Lane.
Originally the applicant also wanted to include a function room, prompting fears of noisy gatherings and stag parties.
This was later scaled back to a ‘communal area’, which the applicant said would only be used by holidaying residents.
Speaking at RDC’s planning committee meeting last Thursday (May 26), Cllr Mary Barnes (Con, Ticehurst and Etchingham Ward), spoke with passion about the lane – dark, quiet, flushed with rare birds and wildlife, with a close-knit community.
Residents feared the plans would have a negative impact on these if they were given the green light.
Cllr Barnes, who lives in Sheepstreet Lane, said: “Everyone is very, very concerned.
“There have been a lot of residents’ meetings.
“It’s had a great impact on everyone.”
She questioned how the holiday lets would fit in with rural life.
She said: “My farm hosts a shoot every Saturday during the winter.
“We have a vast number of cars coming in and out in connection with that shoot.
“But that is actually accepted because it’s part of an agricultural use.
“We are looking at something which is a full-on change of use for ex-agricultural buildings.”
However, Cllr Barnes then suggested ‘with a very, very heavy heart’ that the plans were approved because they fit in with Rother’s policy to support rural tourism.
Cllr Sue Prochak (Lib Dem, Salehurst) said: “The views from this property are stunning.
“So the people who live in Sheepstreet Lane are very privileged.
“I do see how alarm bells start ringing if this is likely to be eroded.”
Councillors voted unanimously to approve the plans, subject to a number of strict conditions, including that the applicant seeks prior written approval for floodlights and the communal area is only used by resident guests at the lets.
Members of the public attending the meeting said they were ‘disgusted’ and ‘furious’ with the approval.
View planning application RR/2015/3143/P for more information on the conditions imposed.
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