Eastbourne Local Plan - Growth Strategy


The Local Plan is one of the most important documents shaping the future of Eastbourne. It is the key planning document setting out how we plan and manage growth, regeneration and development across the Borough, based on a vision of how we want Eastbourne to be in 20 years' time.

The Local Plan is used to guide decisions on the location, amount and type of development that the Borough needs. This includes ensuring that new development contributes towards the town becoming carbon neutral; identifying land and uses that are required to create a prosperous economy; protecting what we value in terms of the environment and heritage of the area; creating thriving communities that meet the needs of local residents; delivering the right types of homes in the right locations; and providing effective infrastructure to sustain future growth.

As the South Downs National Park Authority is the local planning authority for the South Downs, Eastbourne Borough Council's Local Plan will only apply to the area of the Borough that is outside of the National Park.

Context Map

The new Local Plan will set out a vision, objectives and development strategy for the whole of the Borough covering the period 2019 to 2039, alongside a range of policies that will guide development and infrastructure requirements to ensure that it helps to deliver that vision and strategy.

The Local Plan will also include allocations for various land uses such as residential and employment. The Local Plan will help provide certainty to local residents, developers and other stakeholders about what will happen in the Borough up to 2039. Once adopted, it will replace the existing Local Plan that was adopted in 2013.

Whilst development can be controversial, it does provide the homes, jobs and other services and facilities that will be needed for future generations. This growth is required to help Eastbourne evolve in response to changing circumstances and remain a good place to live, work and visit in the future.

Work on the new Local Plan commenced in 2018 when the current Local Plan (known as the Core Strategy) became five years old. In 2019, the Council undertook an 'Issues & Options' consultation to seek views on some of the initial options and ideas for the strategy for development and the 'direction of travel', including the vision and objectives, for the new Local Plan.

In relation to housing growth, the 'Issues & Options' identified six options for how new homes could be delivered in Eastbourne, based on different densities and the way sites could be used to deliver housing. The options were not considered to be necessarily mutually exclusive and could be combined if this would form the most effective and sustainable strategy for the number and distribution of housing over the plan period.

Options for Growth identified in the 'Issues & Options':

  • Option A: Densities based on the prevailing character of the area surrounding the site;
  • Option B: Increasing the proportion of houses being delivered on sites;
  • Option C: Increasing the proportion of flats being delivered on sites;
  • Option D: Providing taller residential buildings in Town Centre;
  • Option E: 50% increase on the prevailing density on all sites within the existing built-up area;
  • Option F: 50% increase on the prevailing density on all sites of more than 0.5 hectares

A summary of responses made to the Issues & Options consultation relating to the questions on how Eastbourne will accommodate housing and employment land is provided as a supporting document to this consultation and is available on the website. A full response to all comments received on the Issues & Options consultation will be provided at a later date alongside the draft Local Plan. It is important to note that this Growth Strategy consultation builds upon, rather than supersedes, the Issues & Options consultation, so all comments made will be addressed in the next stage of the Local Plan's preparation.

Having reviewed the comments received on the Issues & Options, it is clear that a single approach on its own is unlikely to be able to address issues of housing and employment growth across the borough.

Since the 'Issues & Options' consultation, further evidence has been gathered through new technical studies to inform the preparation of the Local Plan. This evidence has been used, along with the responses to the 'Issues & Options', the updated national planning policy and guidance and the Sustainability Appraisal process, to identify a 'Growth Strategy' that is the subject of this consultation. This Growth Strategy is based on a combination of Options D and E identified in the 'Issues & Options' consultation.

It is important to note that this consultation document does not contain draft policies and does not contain all of the detail that will eventually be included in the Local Plan. It is, however, an important step in policy development which builds on specific issues presented at the previous consultation stage to the draft plan which will be consulted upon next year, as identified in the Local Development Scheme.

The number of homes and the amount of employment space that can be provided is heavily influenced by 'showstoppers' that provide a strong reason for restricting the overall scale, type or distribution of development in the plan area, as identified in the National Planning Policy Framework [NPPF] (2021). These are:

  • habitats sites and/or sites designated as Sites of Special Scientific Interest;
  • land designated as Green Belt, Local Green Space, an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty, a National Park (or within the Broads Authority) or defined as Heritage Coast;
  • irreplaceable habitats;
  • designated heritage assets (and other heritage assets of archaeological interest); and
  • areas at risk of flooding or coastal change.

These 'showstoppers' have been used at this stage in the process as the basis for assessing the potential developability of sites. However, evidence gathering is still on-going, and this may identify that some sites have some negative impacts that cannot be satisfactorily mitigated, and this could potentially result in some sites no longer being considered suitable for inclusion in the future draft Local Plan.

Flooding from the sea, rivers and surface water is a significant issue that will impact future development in Eastbourne. Parts of Eastbourne, particularly through Eastbourne Park, are classified as 'functional floodplain', which is defined as where water is stored in time of flood.

Whilst 'functional floodplain' is a showstopper for development, sites in areas with a lower risk of flooding have been identified in this consultation. Where sites have been identified as having a risk of flooding, further work is being undertaken to assess the detailed nature of any risk, taking climate change impacts into account, to ensure that any proposed development sites can be made safe from flooding for its lifetime and is designed so that it will not increase flood risk elsewhere.

In addition, the Pevensey Bay to Eastbourne Coastal Management Scheme, which is seeking to deliver a £100 million coastal flood and erosion risk management project to ensure that the town is resilient to coastal flooding in response to the current climate emergency, is also a key consideration and future decisions on how this will be delivered will influence the on-going preparation of the local plan, including the potential suitability of sites.

There are also other important considerations that will affect the developability of sites. Further detailed work is being prepared to inform the on-going preparation of the Local Plan, including assessing the ecological impacts of development in particular areas, identifying landscape and townscape impacts of development in different locations, and evaluating the financial viability of development to ensure that sites and policies are realistic and deliverable, including infrastructure necessary to support their development.