Proposals for a major redevelopment at the main entry point to the beach at Camber Sands have stirred up local objections.
The planning application includes proposals to demolish the beach locks-up and replace them with a “boutique” hotel overlooking Camber Sands. The application includes the closure of the central car park in Camber, and a loss of around 160 parking spaces, while increasing the size of the current overflow car park from around 130 parking spaces to around 170 spaces, meaning a net reduction in parking.
The 20-bed hotel also includes a large restaurant/bar seating around 150 people. The hotel and restaurant will be mostly at first floor level with a walk-through ‘arcade’ at ground floor level providing access to the beach.
The proposals were originally submitted to Rother District Council (RDC) in 2019 for pre-application advice. Within the planning application it states that the initial submission only looked at developing the beach front and the developers had proposed to retain the existing central car park.
Opposition gathers pace
Following advice from RDC, the developers said: “The revised scheme now looks at the central car park site as a whole and proposes to re-develop the whole site in accordance with pre-application advice as well as guidance from Camber’s Supplementary Planning Document.” Since then, local opposition has gathered pace.
While the site is located outside the Camber Sands Site of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI), a number of objectors are worried about the effects on the local environment and have concerns that dune cover could be lost.
One objector said: “The dunes at Camber and surrounding fields should not be damaged or destroyed to make way for parking. The dunes and fields are an important part of the coastal habitat for our wildlife and should not be sacrificed to make way for additional parking and development which is only required on a few weeks each year. Wildlife needs this environment all the time.”
Natural England has raised concerns about the proposals and asked for further clarification, saying: “‘It appears from proposed site plans that this will result in a direct loss of [natural] area within the designated sites although this loss does not appear to be addressed within the baseline ecological audit.”
Increasing summer parking problems
A number of local residents have expressed their concerns that the closure of Camber’s central car park will further exacerbate the town’s summer parking problems, as previously reported in Rye News. It is proposed that the central car park will become a “pedestrian friendly zone” containing pop-up food concessions while the current over-flow car park will be refurbished and expanded. Overall, there will be a net loss of parking spaces from around 290 currently on the two central sites to around 170.
Not all the locals oppose the redevelopment with one resident saying: “Exactly what Camber needs for both the locals and visitors. It would be wonderful if the retail units could be for local artisans. Let’s bring some art and culture to Camber.”
The proposals will see the Marina café on the beach being retained and incorporated into the new hotel. The ground floor will remain a café while the first floor will house the relocated and expanded Dunes Bar – which is currently located on Old Lydd Road.
The developers have likened elements of their building design to the new extension at Ashford Designer Outlet, saying: “Natural materials with the use of living walls on some of the main façades to the main development and remains similar to neighbouring buildings also providing a staggered and broken frontage to both the public spaces and beach benefiting from sea views throughout the site.”
If you want to view the full planning application, or comment online, it can be found here.
Image Credits: Kevin McCarthy , Rother District Council planning application .