Eastbourne Local Plan - Growth Strategy

Growth Strategy

Access to safe, secure and affordable housing is fundamental to supporting the health and independence of residents, creating sustainable communities and promoting economic growth. This means delivering new homes is necessary to meet the needs of a changing population, to help address the housing affordability crisis and to attract and retain working age households that will contribute to the local economy.

Similarly, the provision of new employment development provides more jobs and greater opportunities, especially for younger people and business start-ups, which increases the worth of the local economy and attracts value to the town.

The NPPF requires that local plans have an overall strategy for the pattern, scale and quality of development, and make sufficient provision for housing, employment, retail, leisure and other commercial development needs. This means that the Local Plan must set out a housing requirement for the plan period, identifying the number of homes that are required to be delivered each year. The Government checks delivery of housing in each planning authority through the Housing Delivery Test and there are sanctions if the requirement is not met.

The Government determines that the number of homes needed in Eastbourne is 738 homes per year, or 14,760 homes over the plan period. This is calculated using the 'Standard Method' that is set out in national policy.

Whilst there is no equivalent to the 'Standard Method' for calculating employment needs, the Eastbourne and Wealden Employment and Economic Study (2022) identifies a need for at least 76,184 sqm of employment (office, industrial and warehouse) floorspace to be provided in Eastbourne between 2021 and 2039.

The NPPF expects local plans to meet their identified need for housing and employment uses, unless there are strong reasons for restricting the overall scale, type or distribution of development in the plan area; or the adverse impacts of meeting the need would significantly and demonstrably outweigh the benefits when assessed against the NPPF as a whole.

There are strong reasons why Eastbourne is unable to meet its development needs in full. The town is surrounded by the protected downland of the South Downs National Park to the west, the English Channel to the south, and the boundary with Wealden District to the north and east, and much of the land through the central area known as Eastbourne Park is functional floodplain. These physical and environmental constraints limit the amount of land that is available to develop. As such, the town does not have sufficient land to meet development needs in full, even at significantly increased densities. This means that the Government will require us to consider all sites with potential for development and to ensure that all opportunities are maximised so as many new homes and employment spaces are accommodated as possible in a sustainable way.

This means that the housing requirement for the local plan will be a capacity-based target, rather than a needs-based target.

Under the Localism Act 2011, Eastbourne Borough Council currently has a duty to co-operate with neighbouring authorities and statutory organisations. Discussions are on-going with Wealden District Council regarding how much, if any, of Eastbourne's unmet need can be accommodated outside of Eastbourne's boundaries.

The majority of new homes will be delivered by making the most efficient use of previously developed land within the built-up area through increasing the density of new development in locations that are highly accessible to services and public transport, whilst also respecting the character of the local area. This would include seeking higher densities on sites in the town centre through the provision of taller buildings.

In identifying a capacity-based target for Eastbourne in the Local Plan, the following have been taken into account:

  • Sites have that already been completed within the first three years of the plan period
  • Sites that have a current planning permission where development has not yet been completed
  • An allowance for the delivery of homes on sites that cannot be identified in advance, which is based on past trends and adjusted to take into account on-going circumstances
  • Sites identified as being suitable, available and achievable for future development through the Land Availability Assessment (LAA).

A total of 557 new homes were built in the first three years of the plan period (2019 - 2022) and there are 1,090 homes that have an existing planning permission across 135 sites (as at 1st April 2022).

Since 2006, a significant number of homes have been delivered through the sub-division of existing dwellings and the change of use of buildings from non-residential uses. It is not possible to identify where and when these developments will come forward, but it is a consistent source of supply that is expected to continue. Therefore, an allowance has been made for 1,260 new homes being delivered through conversions and changes of use over the plan period, based on past trends and how these are expected to change in future.

The Land Availability Assessment (LAA) has identified 197 sites that could deliver homes and employment space. This includes:

  • 137 small sites (providing less than 10 homes each) within the existing built-up area that have the potential to provide 407 homes via 'infill' or redevelopment of existing sites
  • 38 medium-sized sites (providing between 10 and 25 homes each) within the existing built-up area that have potential to provide 564 homes via 'infill' or redevelopment of existing sites
  • 22 large 'strategic' sites that have potential to accommodate 2,523 new homes and 53,000 sqm of employment space through redevelopment of existing sites and extensions to the built-up area
This means that the Eastbourne Local Plan will make provision for 6,401 new homes (equivalent to an average of 320 new homes per year) and 53,000 sqm of employment floorspace (consisting of 13,000sqm of office use, and 40,000sqm of industrial and warehouse uses) over the plan period between 2019 and 2039.

This 'Growth Strategy' aims to ensure a balance between:

  • Providing housing and employment opportunities for future generations
  • Making the most efficient use of the limited amount of land available for development by increasing the density on sites in the most sustainable locations within walking distance of services and facilities (where local character and townscape allows), thereby reducing the need to travel and supporting local businesses
  • Protecting the residential and environmental amenity of existing and future residents
  • Mitigating the impacts of climate change by avoiding development within the areas at the highest risk of flooding
  • Safeguarding the most valuable green, open spaces and habitats
  • Ensuring that infrastructure can meet future demands from growth

This means that growth is mainly focused on previously developed land, mainly within the Town Centre and immediately surrounding neighbourhoods such as Seaside, Upperton and Meads. There are also a number of former industrial sites in Roselands & Bridgemere that can provide new homes. The distribution of homes by neighbourhood is identified in the graph below. Overall, in excess of 80% of the new homes provided would be on 'brownfield' land.

However, not all new development can be accommodated on 'brownfield' land. The 'Growth Strategy' also includes the development of 'greenfield' sites where there are no 'showstoppers' to development. This includes three sites located on the fringes of Eastbourne Park that will provide 390 new homes, and the expansion to the east of the town into the East Langney Levels, which will provide 587 new homes.

Issues around affordable housing and the type, size and mix of homes will be addressed at the next stage in the local plan process.

Number of homes anticipated to be delivered between 2019 and 2039 by neighbourhood

Graph showing the number of homes anticipated to be delivered between 2019 and 2039 by neighbourhood

New industrial and warehouse space amounting to 30,000 sqm will be provided via expansion adjacent to the existing designated industrial estates off Lottbridge Drove. Office provision will be mainly focused on development at Sovereign Harbour (Site 6), which will provide 10,000 sqm of office floorspace and is carried forward from the previous Local Plan, with some additional office space (3,000 sqm) being provided as part of a mixed-use development on land adjacent to the Enterprise Centre and Railway Station in the Town Centre.

This 'Growth Strategy' represents an overall increase of 13% in the existing number of homes in the town, and an increase of 15% in the existing employment floorspace in the town, between 2019 and 2039.

It is important to understand that this level of growth would be provided in Eastbourne over 20 years. The potential complexity of some of the sites means that there are likely to be lower levels of housing delivery in the short-term, with the number of new home completions increasing later in the plan period.

Housing growth within built-up area by neighbourhood 2019-2039

Map showing housing growth within built-up area by neighbourhood 2019-2039