PLANNERS at Rye have accused Hastings College of “pulling the wool over people’s eyes” with their controversial application to build new homes on the Lion Street FE site.
Councillors sitting on the planning committee this week were annoyed that what is being described as an application to demolish a modern extension relates to a listed building which is 100 years old.
They were referring to the old Art Room, which would be demolished under the college’s proposals.
The Art Room was added some years after the original building was constructed in 1874, but it is still 100 years old and was granted listed building consent in May 2001.
Cllr Paul Osborne said: “What they are saying is a modern extension was built 100 years ago, it is not something from the 60’s or 70’s.
“To me it is not modern, it is in character and keeping with the rest of the building.”
Committee chairman Frank Palmer said: “I does seem as if people have had the wool pulled over their eyes.”
He said: “The general wish of those submitting views is that the Lion Street site should continue to be used by local people and should not fall into the hands of a developer.”
Cllr Lorna Hall said: “I see very little point in listing a building and then demolishing it 20 years later.”
Cllr Bernardine Fiddimore said: “It is cheeky of them to try and include the art room on the demolition order.”
Cllr Palmer advised that it was possible to demolish a listed building under certain circumstances.
Mike Eve, from the Fletcher Group, who want to build a theatre and cinema on the site, said: “The original application contained misleading information and therefore this should be thrown out.
“I am sure that Rye Town Council’s objections would have been even stronger if the importance of the Art Room had not been downplayed.”
Sussex South Coast College says it cannot afford to maintain the buildings as it is losing money on them.
It says it plans to re-invest money from the sale of the site into a new Specialist Skills Centre for young people in Rye.
The college bought the education centre for a token sum from East Sussex County Council. It was originally left to the Rye community by former Mayor Charles Meryon.
Councillors voted to refer the application to a meeting of full council in order to widen the debate.
Councillors from Rother Council’s planning committee made a site visit to Lion Street on Monday.
It is Rother who will have the final say on the future of the centre.