A row has broken out over access and tree felling at the site of a proposed tea museum in Battle.
The museum is yet to be accepted by Rother District Council but builders have already started felling trees outside St Mary’s Church.
The proposed access for the site is the church drive which the developer claims is public but Rev John Edmondson believes is private and says there is no proof to the contrary.
“Life’s become a little bit miserable as I have to spend time worrying and chucking people out of the car park,” he said.
“I have got no problems with the tea museum and I welcome investment but they just need to change the access.
“If it was from his land that would be fine.”
Mr Edmondson said the development was causing stress among church staff.
“It’s causing a lot of mess and we are really worried about the future,” he said.
Although the trees were not deemed ‘good enough’ to protect, the church dean is furious with the developer for starting construction without planning permission, especially on a listed building.
“It’s all difficult because if anyone else wanted permission, you would have to wait,” he said.
The disagreement came to a head when tree-felling began and the parish administrator phoned the district council to send an enforcement officer and a tree officer to stop them.
They did force the builders to stop cutting down the trees but Rev Edmondson said work began again once the council officers left.
Rother District Council said trees in a conservation area normally require a six-week notice before being chopped down. However, it was not needed in this case because the trees were not deemed good enough to protect.
A council spokesman said: “A planning application for this site has been submitted and includes the demolition of out buildings and construction of a tea museum.
“This application has yet to be determined by Rother District Council.
“The site falls within the Battle Conservation Area and, as a result, the council requires six weeks’ notice prior to the pruning or felling of any trees to give it an opportunity to protect trees with a tree preservation order.
“Proper notice was not given in this instance.
“However, had the council received notification, the trees were not considered good enough specimens to merit protection and officers would not have objected to the work.”
Within the application for the museum, the developer stated a number of ways the museum will be good for Battle.
St Margaret Properties claimed the museum will add to the commercial sustainability of the town and create job opportunities for residents.
The developers also said the building will be in keeping with the character of the area and will provide development to help maintain the market town role.
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