Lewes Magistrates’ Court bid ‘goes against aims of South Downs National Park’

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The proposed development of a 62-bed budget hotel and shops on the site of the former Magistrates’ Court in Lewes goes against the fundamental principles of the South Downs National Park, claims a local resident.

John Anderson has lodged a strong objection to the planning application by Quora (Lewes) Ltd on the SDNP’s website.

He said a core aim when the National Park was designated was “to conserve and enhance the natural beauty, wildlife and cultural heritage”.

Mr Anderson said: “The proposed demolition of a perfectly sound building to make way for the development of a chain budget hotel and shops does not satisfy this principle in any way. If allowed to proceed it would add and conserve nothing whatsoever to the cultural heritage that is so important to Lewes. The building design proposed comes clearly from the school of modern supermarket building.”

Another aim of the National Park was “to promote opportunities for the public understanding and enjoyment of these special qualities”.

Mr Anderson continued: “The redevelopment proposed is designed to provide cheap overnight beds for mainly business people, unlike the newly built facility at Itford which caters specifically for walkers, tourists and others here to enjoy the beauty of SDNP.

“It is perhaps significant that Premier Inns do not have a single hotel within the boundaries of any other National Park in England and Wales. The SDNP has a Premier Inn at Petersfield, presumably because it was already there prior to designation of SDNP.”

He added: “The Lake District, Northumbria and the Yorkshire Dales are full of traditional hotels, guest houses and B&Bs dotted throughout the Park, that’s how they foster the economic and social well-being of local communities living and working in their parks; and that’s how to encourage tourists and genuine visitors to the SDNP, not by smashing perfectly good buildings in market town centres to make way for cheap chain hotels and faceless shops.”

Meanwhile, concerned residents have organised a meeting to raise awareness of the application and to “explore ways in which we can influence the decision of the SDNP Planning Committee”.

It will be held on Thursday, July 11, in the Lecture Room at Lewes Town Hall at 7.30pm.