Bexhill is a medium-sized coastal town with a population of 40,450 persons at the 2001 Census. It is primarily residential in character with an established employment, shopping and service centre role. It is the largest town in Rother District, accounting for nearly a half of the total population, and is its administrative centre.


Bexhill first grew up on a hill about half a mile inland and overlooking flat marshy ground. This is now Old Town. The building of the railway in 1846 to the south was key to its development. In the 1880s, the 7th Earl De La Warr commissioned the sea wall and promenade, paving the way for development, which he promoted as a fashionable health resort, namely Bexhill-on-Sea.


Most of the buildings in the town centre were built over a ten-year period around 1900. As such, they provide an unusually complete early Edwardian townscape. Both the Old Town and Bexhill town centre are now designated Conservation Areas.


The underlying environmental quality of the town is high. Key assets are the seafront, the internationally acclaimed De la Warr Pavilion, the well-preserved and mixed-use town centre and a variety of pleasant residential areas interspersed with substantial areas of parkland and open space.


The countryside setting of the town, although not part of the High Weald Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty, is also undulating and attractive. The area is rich in wildlife habitats. Parts of Combe Haven and High Woods are Sites of Special Scientific Interest. Beyond the western fringe are the Pevensey Levels, of international nature conservation importance. 


Bexhill’s population has grown steadily over the last 30 years. There was significant development in the 1980s, but this has slowed down considerably in recent years. Partly due to its seaside location and high number of private schools, in the first half of the 1900s, the town developed a particular role as a retirement location. As a consequence, a high proportion, 38%, of the population are over pensionable age.


Bexhill has close economic ties with neighbouring Hastings. The need for the economic regeneration of the two towns is recognised in regional policy (RPG9) and by the recent creation of a Task Force. Within Bexhill itself, two wards – Central and Sidley - are amongst the poorest 20% of wards in the country.


The economic base of the town is very dependent upon service sectors. The manufacturing base is small, being focussed on the Beeching Road and smaller Brett Drive industrial areas. The former Sidley Goods Yard also provides for various, mostly storage-type, uses.


The town centre maintains its role as the principal shopping area serving the town, even though a significant proportion of retail expenditure is “lost” to Ravenside Retail Park, Hastings and Eastbourne. Competition from other centres, all of which have seen growth, allied to the physical constraints on development in the town centre and the fairly static spending power within the town, have combined to limit retail investment in recent years.


Transport communications are an important local issue. Improvements to the A21 and A27/A259 trunk roads, as well as to the south coast and London railway lines are sought. In terms of access to jobs, links to Ashford are expected to become increasingly significant.


Planning strategy

The Council’s vision for Bexhill is one of a thriving coastal town, in which people want to live, in which businesses are confident of investing and growing and is characterised by a strong sense of community and pride in its distinct identity.

POLICY BX1 View Map of this site ?

Proposals for development and change in Bexhill should be compatible with and, wherever practicable, contribute positively to the following objectives:

  1. to develop its residential, employment, shopping and service centre functions;
  2. to provide for both the growth of local firms and appropriate inward investment in order to improve the range of job opportunities for local people as well as to ensure that residential development is sustainable;
  3. to ensure that development is of a rate and form compatible with the town’s environment and amenities, whilst also contributing to a long-term spatial vision;
  4. to promote the regeneration of the town centre in a way that reflects its unique character and cultural assets;
  5. to significantly improve accessibility both within the town and to important employment centres, especially Hastings, by all modes of transport;
  6. to maintain and enhance the town’s distinctive character and identity, including maintaining the strategic gap to St. Leonards in accordance with Policy DS5.

As discussed in Section 4, Bexhill is earmarked for significant development in the form of an urban extension to the north east of the town. This is a major plank of the overall spatial strategy in Policy DS2. Consideration has been given to how such development is likely to fit into the longer-term urban framework of Bexhill.


Firstly, the above objectives are regarded as applicable over the longer term, while the recent draft “Masterplan” produced on behalf of the Hastings and Bexhill Task Force presents, very graphically, how the town and Hastings could grow over 30 years. The Masterplan’s proposals are reproduced below for cross-reference purposes. Further details can be viewed on the Task Force’s website: www.ourfuture.org.uk.

Figure 6 Draft Hastings and Bexhill Masterplan



The Masterplan proposes peripheral development around a framework of “country avenues” that defines the urban-rural edge and creates new transport corridors (suited to all modes of travel) and which link public spaces. In this way, it looks to promote closer integration between the two towns and to make the most of their relationship with the sea and the countryside. It also sees the emergent proposals for a countryside park at Pebsham as a key resource for both communities and, indeed, for the region.


It is stressed that the Masterplan is put forward only as a draft set of proposals for public consultation at this stage and its ideas will need to be fully evaluated and tested through the statutory planning processes, both in terms of their acceptability and practicability.


In particular, the longer-term Draft Masterplan proposals raise issues in relation to the scale, location and timing of future development to the west and north west of the town. There are also substantial issues raised by development proposals in environmentally sensitive locations round the Hastings fringes, including in the Wilting Farm area. Further regard will need to be given to these as part of the review of the current Structure Plan and Local Plans in due course.


However, the feedback to the draft Masterplan showed a high level of support for an enlarged countryside park and provision for a country avenue around Bexhill. These elements may be carried forward now. The former is the subject of a specific policy below, while the proposals for major urban extension may be served from and contained by a “country avenue” that can be subsequently extended westwards.


This Local Plan does not presume a particular timing or alignment of the “country avenue” beyond that shown on the Proposals Map and related to current development proposals. Hence, any further outward expansion of Bexhill related to the extension of the country avenue will be considered in a future review, as discussed above, following a new regional or sub-regional strategy.


North-east Bexhill (Inset Map 1a)

Proposals for north-east Bexhill put forward below provide the basis for sustainable long-term growth insofar as they plan for:

  • the creation of a robust, long-term urban edge, with development contained from the wider countryside setting by well-defined topographical and landscape features
  • high quality business sites, with good connections to the urban area as well as to the transport network, which should meet employment and regeneration needs for the foreseeable future
  • the creation of new and expanded residential communities, both in the Worsham Farm area and, over time, westward of the Preston Hall Farm area
  • establishment of a major countryside park between Bexhill and Hastings that not only serves as a recreational resource for the two towns, but also provides for the long-term management of the  strategic gap and the rural fringe all the way round to Sidley
  • the first stage of the “country avenue” for movements around the town and to provide access to new employment and housing areas, leisure and recreational facilities and the countryside

Key factors in determining the location, scale and form of development to be accommodated in north-east Bexhill are:

  • the timing of construction of the Link Road
  • the ability to generate sufficient additional jobs for growth to be sustainable
  • the strength of the local housing market
  • the need to protect the rural landscape setting of the town
  • the need to create a community

The Highways Agency has now indicated that a substantial development cannot be accommodated in terms of current trunk road capacity on the A259 between Bexhill and Hastings. This scheme has now been supported in principle by Government. It has also advised that the scheme qualifies for Government funding. East Sussex County Council, as local highway authority, is developing detailed proposals. Allowing for the necessary consultation and statutory procedures, it is understood that the road could be completed during the first half of 2010. This will limit the amount of development within the Plan period, although there could be potential for completion of some of the Policy BX2 housing should a transport assessment demonstrate an acceptable impact on the main road network.


Business development must be a priority in the development of north-east Bexhill. If carefully planned and developed, it can provide the focus for sustainable growth. It is very difficult to estimate the potential job creation over the Plan period. Whilst recognising that all development may not take place by 2011, it is still considered appropriate to plan for some 50,000m2, as originally envisaged in the North Bexhill Strategic Framework, 1993, with the potential for some 1,500 – 2,000 jobs. This recognises the long-term locational advantages that the site will have and the major task of regenerating the wider area. Its development will contribute significantly to the regeneration and workforce needs of the area in the foreseeable future.


A review of the extent of development should have full regard to landscape and otherenvironmental factors. Whereas development was previously contained by the proposed bypasses, landscape factors suggest a somewhat different, and lesser, development area, with its outer edge tighter to the urban area at its eastern end.


To create a community, as opposed to a residential suburb or estate, requires a certain threshold size to support the provision of services such as a primary school, community and leisure facilities, local shops. For example, a primary school needs a catchment of some 800 houses. Therefore, even if development is not capable of being completed by 2011, it should be comprehensively planned as an entity.


In order to secure the proper planning of the area, it is concluded that proposals for major development to the north-east of Bexhill should be planned as a strategic location, with provision for development continuing beyond 2011.


This will be secured by three complementary land allocations:

  1. Land east of the proposed Link Road, including Glovers Farm and Worsham Farm for a new community and prestige business development;
  2. Land west of the proposed Link Road, including Oaktree Farm and Preston Hall Farm for a major business area with some housing and open space;
  3. Land east of the proposed Link Road beyond the proposed development at
    1. above and extending across the gap between Bexhill and Hastings as a countryside park.

These allocations will supersede the proposals contained in the North Bexhill Strategic Framework 1993.


This approach is seen as the most effective means of securing early job creation in order for sustainable growth. For economic and land use reasons, it is proposed that the business elements be located closest to the planned Link Road. Creating two distinct housing areas also increases the potential for Bexhill to contribute fully to Structure Plan housing requirements. A North Bexhill Master Plan Supplementary Planning Document will be prepared in consultation with stakeholders, community groups and others. This will give further guidance on the phasing and density of development across the Policy BX2 and BX3 allocations and on the infrastructure contributions necessary to satisfactorily accommodate such a significant development.

POLICY BX2 View Map of this site ?

Land north of Pebsham, Bexhill, including Worsham Farm and Glovers Farm, as defined on the Proposals Map, is allocated for a mix of housing, business and related uses. Proposals will be permitted where the following criteria are met:

  1. a comprehensive scheme is put forward, embracing both residential and business elements, to be progressed in parallel and provide for job creation at the earliest opportunity;
  2. the residential development shall be developed as a new community around a well-defined neighbourhood centre;
  3. at least 980 dwellings should be provided, of which 40% shall be affordable;
  4. some 22,000m2 of business floorspace shall be provided;
  5. the new neighbourhood centre shall include a new oneform entry primary school, nursery school, community hall, shops and services to meet local day-to-day needs and an amenity/recreation area;
  6. no development shall be occupied until the Link Road is constructed and open, unless demonstrated by a Transport Assessment that the impact upon the main road network is acceptable and in accordance with an agreed phasing plan for the overall development of the Policy BX2 and BX3 policy areas, while the actual location of development will have regard to the approved route;
  7. business development will be of a high quality, with high specification, prestige buildings in prominent and “landmark” locations, contained within a generous landscape framework;
  8. employment uses will be either offices, research and development or light manufacturing, falling within Class B1 of the Use Classes Order;
  9. the layout and design of the new community shall accord with the principles laid out in Policy HG4 and incorporate open spaces and play areas in accordance with Policy CF4 in addition to the strategic “green” spaces and corridors and woodland areas shown;
  10. access roads shall be from the proposed Link Road with two connections from Wrestwood Road, as shown on the Proposals Map, except that any developments which may be permitted to be brought into use before the opening of the Link Road in accordance with criterion (vi) may be permitted to take temporary access from another road but only until a new access has been established to the Link Road and Wrestwood Road as to be provided for in the North Bexhill Master Plan SPD;
  11. a local distributor road shall form the northern edge of built development and shall be laid out as a wide “country avenue”, contained to the north by a strong landscape tree belt; this shall incorporate a bus route andsegregated cycleway/footway, which connect key destinations within the development and beyond;
  12. an overall net housing density of not less than 35 dwellings per hectare with a net housing density for each area or sub area within the development of not less than 30 dwellings per hectare with higher densities of not less than 40 dwellings per hectare close to the neighbourhood centre and public transport routes, the extent and minimum density for each sub area to be defined in the North Bexhill Master Plan SPD;
  13. land to the north of the “avenue” will be incorporated into the Countryside Park and remain undeveloped, with the possible exception of land south of Combe Wood where recreational uses may be permitted if subsequently shown to be warranted by a recreational needs assessment;
  14. land at the eastern end of the “avenue” may be reserved for a small car park to serve the Countryside Park;
  15. development contributions are made towards off-site improvements to related community facilities, transport and other supporting infrastructure. Development proposals will be subject to a Transport Assessment and Travel Plan, but may relate to high frequency bus services/facilities to Bexhill town centre and north Hastings, pedestrian and cycle links to Sidley, Bexhill town centre and the Countryside Park. Contributions would also be required towards the Countryside Park, recreational provision, library improvements and secondary school provision.

POLICY BX3 View Map of this site ?

Land north of Sidley, Bexhill, including Oaktree Farm and Preston Hall Farm, as shown on the Proposals Map, is allocated for major business development, together with housing and open space within a generous landscape setting.

Proposals will be permitted where the following criteria are met:

  1. a comprehensive scheme is put forward, embracing both residential and business elements, to be progressed in parallel and provide for job creation at the earliest opportunity;
  2. some 26,000m2 of business floorspace shall be provided. This will be mostly light manufacturing and offices, falling within Class B1 of the Use Classes Order; Class B2 (general industry) and Class B8 (storage) uses will only be allowed in visually contained locations away from housing;
  3. at least 130 dwellings shall be developed, of which 40% shall be affordable, with no sub areas to be developed at less than 30 dwellings per hectare;
  4. proposals for structural open spaces, landscape and woodland belts shall be developed and implemented as an integral part of proposals;
  5. the layout and design of the residential development shall accord with the principles laid out in Policy HG4 and incorporate open spaces and play areas in accordance with Policy CF4 in addition to the strategic “green” spaces and corridors and woodland areas shown;
  6. there shall be no new dwellings in the vicinity of Preston Hall to the north of the allocated housing area;
  7. vehicular access shall be from the Link Road via the Country Avenue local distributor road with a loop road to connect the employment areas to the local distributor road;
  8. a local distributor road shall form the northern edge of built development and shall be laid out as a wide “country avenue”, contained to the north by a strong landscape tree belt; this shall incorporate a bus route and segregated cycleway/footway, which connect key destinations within the development and beyond, as indicated diagrammatically on the Proposals Map including the “Green Links” along Buckholt Lane and to Watermill Lane;
  9. housing development will be accessed by an access road from the western end of northern avenue, with pedestrian/cycle access only to adjoining residential areas;
  10. development contributions are made towards off-site improvements to related community facilities, transport and other supporting infrastructure. Development proposals will be subject to a Transport Assessment and Travel Plan, but may relate to high frequency bus services/facilities to Bexhill town centre and north Hastings, pedestrian and cycle links to Sidley, Bexhill town centre and the Countryside Park. Contributions would also be required towards the Countryside Park, recreational provision; library improvements and secondary school provision.  

A new "countryside park" at Pebsham, is proposed between the built-up areas of Bexhill and St Leonards within Rother District and extending into the Combe Haven valley as shown on the Proposals Map. Part of this land is currently used as a landfill site which is due to cease operation in 2008 and will be restored as part of the Park. Adjacent land is identified in the East Sussex Brighton and Hove Waste Local Plan for a range of waste related facilities, including the existing Reprotech waste derived fuel plant, a materials recovery facility and waste transfer station. That land is therefore excluded from the Policy BX4 allocation, as is the existing nearby wastewater treatment plant. The Countryside Park will be developed for recreational activities and nature conservation alongside continuing agricultural use whilst remaining mainly open.

POLICY BX4 View Map of this site ?

Land between Bexhill and St. Leonards, from Galley Hill in the south to the proposed Link Road to the north, as shown on the Proposals Map, is allocated as a Countryside Park.

Within the Countryside Park area, proposals will only be acceptable where they:

  1. are consistent with the establishment and maintenance of the area as a key recreational and amenity resource for Bexhill and Hastings and their wider catchment; and
  2. provide for the proper conservation and, where appropriate, management of the Site of Special Scientific Interest and the Site of Nature Conservation Importance within it; and
  3. accord with the proper protection of areas at risk of flooding, in accordance with Policy DS1; or
  4. are in compliance with other relevant development plan policies for this site.

A management plan will develop a detailed framework for the layout of the Countryside Park, and will in due course provide a supplementary planning document.


Town centre (Inset Map 1e)

The Council wants to see the town centre strengthen its position as the commercial and cultural heart of Bexhill. This includes building on its considerable strengths in the mix of land uses and strong architectural character, to support commercial regeneration and to create a more vibrant shopping environment with new retail development and the better integration between key facilities.


Improved accessibility will be a key to this, and a town centre traffic management strategy is envisaged. This will assess the scope for reducing the impact of cars in the town centre and improving facilities for buses, taxis and cyclists. Parking may be managed better. This will be prepared in conjunction with the County Council and subject to widespread consultation.


An allocation of land for a significant retail/mixed use development is set out below. Other smaller sites may come forward for redevelopment or intensification including those identified in the Council’s Assessment of Urban Housing Capacity. Such sites and premises will be favourably considered for retail use in accordance with Policy EM13, where possible with office or residential uses on upper storeys. In addition, a hotel proposal on a suitable site would be encouraged.


There is sufficient opportunity in the town centre “main shopping area” to accommodate the anticipated need for additional retail floorspace up to 2011. This is expected to be achieved by an expansion/redevelopment of Sainsburys and related redevelopment along Western Road (see below), as well as through the expansion of existing space and increased turnover in existing shops. A comprehensive mixed-use development in this location also offers the opportunity to rationalise town centre car parking, better integrate commercial development north and south of the railway and improve access to the station itself. A development brief will be prepared for the Policy BX6 site and shall, amongst other things, include design guidance relating to the development context which includes a designated Conservation Area and the setting of listed buildings.

POLICY BX5 View Map of this site ?

For the purposes of Policy EM13, the main shopping area of Bexhill will be that so defined on the Proposals Map, Inset 1e and this will be the primary focus for retail development.

POLICY BX6 View Map of this site ?

Within the town centre on the area defined on the Proposals Map Inset 1e, land including the Sainsbury’s store and other properties on both sides of the railway is allocated for a mixed retail, residential, office and car parking development to include the potential for rafting over the railway itself.

Comprehensive development proposals will be permitted which incorporate the following elements:

  1. a large store, primarily selling convenience goods;
  2. an intensification of retail, residential and office space;
  3. a decked car park available for public use;
  4. new or significantly improved pedestrian access across the railway to Western Road;
  5. enhancements to the public realm, including Devonshire Square, Town Hall Square and Western Road.

The majority of Bexhill’s offices are located in the town centre. Offices make a significant contribution to the economic activity of the town and are vital to the mixed use character of the town centre. They are increasingly under pressure from alternative residential uses. In order to retain an effective office concentration in the town centre and avoid its fragmentation and loss, it is considered appropriate to promote their retention within the predominantly office areas around the town centre.

POLICY BX7 View Map of this site ?

Within Bexhill town centre in the office areas defined on Inset Map 1e of the Proposals Map, favourable consideration will be given to office uses on all floors within Use Classes A2 (a) and (b) and Use Class B1(a), subject to the other policies of this Plan. The loss of office uses, through conversion or redevelopment, will only be permitted where it is demonstrated that there is no prospect of a continued office use. Where premises within the office area are not currently in office use, this policy shall not preclude their re-use for other non-office purposes.


Development boundary

Outside the strategic urban extension area, consideration has been given to the appropriate definition of the development boundary for Bexhill.


Towards the eastern end of the town is the relatively tranquil and ecologically sensitive Combe Haven, surrounded by spurs of higher land rising to ridges to the north and south. To the north, these roll into the High Weald AONB. It is considered especially important to maintain the general containment of the built-up area by the Worsham ridgeline and to protect the strategic gap between the built-up areas of Bexhill and Hastings.


Further west, the land outside the development boundary becomes more enclosed with distinct field patterns divided by extensive areas of woodland, tree belts and hedgerows. These run into theheavily wooded ridge of High Woods and Whydown, which largely contain the land from the wider AONB countryside to the north.


Towards the western end of the town, the surrounding countryside is less wooded, but a gentle pastoral landscape with extensive hedgerows falling away into the exposed, flat and open landscape of the Barnhorn and Hooe Levels. Extensions to the urban area would encroach into this sensitive setting.


In addition to landscape factors, the release of relatively small greenfield sites would not be consistent with Government guidance which favours larger urban extensions capable of accommodating a mix of uses and supporting a range of infrastructure and services. 


Consequently, and in accordance with the Structure Plan and the overall development strategy, the only proposed “greenfield” allocation at Bexhill is that for the new housing and business development at North Bexhill. Elsewhere, development is to be contained by the existing development boundary, save for a minor revision at Old Harrier Kennels, Maple Walk. There are several urban sites where allocations are appropriate, and help maximise the use of “brownfield” land.


Former Galley Hill Depot, Ashdown Road (Inset Map 1c)

This is 1.3 hectares of derelict former railway land being last used as an oil storage depot but now largely cleared of structures.


Planning permission has previously been granted for residential development on the site, most recently in 1999. However, this has now lapsed. It is understood that the permission was not implemented because the Strategic Rail Authority was undertaking a review of freight requirements along the rail corridor. It has recently indicated that it does not intend to pursue the use of this site for that particular purpose.


In planning terms, the site offers a significant brownfield opportunity. It has direct access from Ashdown Road, although some improvements are needed. Past activities have been shown to have contaminated the ground and remediation is required prior to development.


Housing is also constrained by the adjoining railway line and needs to have regard to the amenities of dwellings in Galley Hill View on the northern boundary. The layout would be determined at the detailed planning application stage, but the position of the site and potential for sea views suggest a higher density of development, which could provide some 48 dwellings.

POLICY BX8 View Map of this site ?

Land comprising the former Galley Hill Depot, Ashdown Road, Bexhill, as defined on the Proposals Map, is allocated for housing purposes.

Proposals will be permitted which provide for:

  1. some 48 dwellings, of which 40% are affordable;
  2. the layout and design accords with the principles in Policy HG4;
  3. a proper assessment of the contamination is undertaken by a competent person and appropriate remediation undertaken;
  4. a satisfactory new junction to Ashdown Road.
  5. Contributions towards secondary school provision.

High School site and Drill Halls, Down Road (Inset Map 1b)

East Sussex County Council, as Education Authority, has stated its intention in due course to relocate the present High School on to a single site at Gunters Lane. While  his is a major project for which there is presently no capital commitment, it is considered appropriate now to indicate the  alternative land use potentials in the event of such a move.


The future of the High School site, which amounts to some 3.1 hectares, needs to be viewed as part of a larger area including the Drill Halls, (half of which is occupied by Services organisations, the other half is empty), King Offa Primary School and the Bexhill Leisure Centre.


A key factor affecting the whole area is the proposal for a new road along the line of former railway as a link between Bexhill and north Hastings via Queensway. This will take land on the eastern edge of the High School site as well as residential and commercial properties to the east of the Leisure Centre. This scheme would place the site at a principal junction in the town and provide a gateway to the town centre.


In such a central and accessible location, it would be appropriate to provide for uses that generate a significant amount of trips. At the same time, the uses should relate well to The Down and existing land uses in the area. There is also the opportunity to considerably improve the appearance of this prominent site.


A redevelopment provides the opportunity to improve the provision of leisure and other community facilities for Bexhill, focussed on the Leisure Centre, as well as a balance of employment and housing. In view of the significance of the site in both location and land use potentials, it is appropriate to allow for further public consideration of detailed proposals.

POLICY BX9 View Map of this site ?

Land off Down Road, Bexhill forming the existing High School and Drill Halls, as shown on the Proposals Map, is allocated for mixed-use development comprising offices, community buildingsand high density housing, following relocation of the secondary school. The balance and layout of development will be the subject of a Planning Brief.


Land west of Bexhill Cemetery (Inset Map 1f)

The Council, as Burial Authority, has recently reviewed cemetery provision for the District. It has resolved that a westward extension to the existing Bexhill Cemetery, is most appropriate to provide for the burial needs of the area. It requires minimal change to the infrastructure in terms of work and pathways.


It is anticipated that the existing cemetery will be at capacity in certain respects within the next 2/3 years. The area identified is considered appropriate for the longer term and to accommodate diverse burial requirements. In bringing forward detailed proposals, regard will be had to the proximity of the proposed landfill site and the consequent need for appropriate screening and noise mitigation measures.

POLICY BX10 View Map of this site ?

Land to the west of Bexhill Cemetery, as shown on the Proposals Map, is allocated for cemetery purposes. Proposals should incorporate appropriate landscaping or other mitigation measures.

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