Controversial homes scheme for Lewes dismissed

Matt Kent

Matt Kent

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An appeal against refusal of a controversial housing scheme in Lewes has been dismissed.

Permission had been refused by the South Downs National Park Authority for more than 50 homes on a site at South Downs Road and Mayhew Way.

The appeal by Mr Ray Charmak, of River Oaks Homes Ltd, against the decision was the subject of a three-day public inquiry earlier this month.

Inspector Clive Hughes concluded: “The proposed development would result in the provision of much-needed dwellings in an area where there is a known shortage of deliverables sites for housing.

“The housing would also enable the remainder of the site to be developed for commercial purposes and provide additional accommodation for businesses within the urban area. It would result in the redevelopment of an untidy, disused and contaminated site within the urban area.

“These are significant benefits that carry considerable weight in favour of the proposals.”

But Mr Hughes continued: “Against this, however, is the failure of the scheme to contribute to the local distinctiveness of Lewes and the resultant harm that would be caused to the character and appearance of the town. It would also fail to conserve the cultural heritage of Lewes and of the National Park.

“There would also be some harm to the living conditions of occupiers of nearby dwellings due to potential unneighbourly overlooking and the effect on outlook.

“Overall, the development would be in conflict with the development plan, emerging policy and the [National Planning Policy] Framework. The appeal is therefore dismissed.”

The town’s Civic Society issued a statement after the decision. It said: “The Friends of Lewes welcomes the decision of the Inspector that this proposed development would not enhance the town or do justice to its distinctive character. He upheld concerns expressed at the three-day hearing about building height and roof-lines and he also found that nearby residents would be over-looked.

“In supporting the decision of the National Park Authority to refuse the application on design grounds, the Inspector has set the standard. The Society believes that particularly significant is the Inspector’s observation ‘I consider it unlikely that, were the scheme to be built, it would be possible to stand within it and recognise that you were in Lewes.’

“The clear implication here is that there is a distinctive character to the town that should be respected and which the planning process will protect in the design of any developments.”