‘Innovative’ homes at East Grinstead site labelled ‘unspeakable dump’

How the new East Grinstead homes will look
How the new East Grinstead homes will look

A Victorian walled garden which was described as a ‘festering abomination’ is to be given a new lease of life thanks to two rather unusual homes.

An application for the land in East Grinstead was approved by Mid Sussex district councillors last week, despite a recommendation to refuse from their own planning officers.

The officers had warned that the two and three-storey buildings would have a ‘significantly harmful impact’ on neighbouring properties – a view not shared by the town council.

Addressing the planning committee, Julie Mockford said the buildings were ‘innovative’ and called on the council to ‘be bold’ and give them the nod.

Speaking about the current state of the walled garden, on land behind 5 High Street, she said: “[The application] improves the present site which, at this current time, is quite honestly a festering abomination.

“Any alterations to the retained Victorian garden wall will be constructed of reclaimed materials to respect its prominence.

“It is being built by a stakeholder in the town whose passion for impeccable construction is evident around East Grinstead.”

The application received five letters supporting the application and eight opposing it, with an objection also registered by the Mid Sussex conservation officer.

Concerns were raised about overdevelopment, a lack of parking and the belief the homes would be out of character with the area.

Supporters, though, said the sedum-roofed houses would make efficient use of a disused space, and were of a high quality, innovative and contemporary design.

Edward Matthews (Con, Copthorne & Worth) said: “It just shows that East Grinstead is very forward-looking. This is an unusual design.

“I’m not usually a lover of modern – I live in a mock Tudor house and this couldn’t be more different – but it is exciting.

“As Mrs Mockford said, the site is an unspeakable dump and I think this has a lot going for it. The town council support it vigorously and I tend to agree with them.”

Phillip Coote (Con, Crawley Down & Turners Hill) said the homes reminded him of those seen on Channel 4’s Grand Designs.

He added: “I think it’s most innovative. It’s a good use of a piece of derelict land. It’s really attractive and different.”