Future of Egrets Way in Lewes is under threat, say campaigners

Cockshut Lane, Lewes
Cockshut Lane, Lewes

A bid to allow vehicles to use a narrow lane in Lewes which is popular with walkers and cyclists has caused an outcry.

J&H Robinson (Iford Farms) wants to access Rise Farm, just off Cockshut Road, via the Stanley Turner Sports Ground and Kingston Road, Lewes.

Iford Farms managing director Ben Taylor said it needed the access for Orange Badge Mobility at Rise Farm, which has the largest disability equipment showroom in the South East.

He added the alternative route along the north side of the bypass via Ham Lane and Mountfield Road had become congested, overgrown and dangerous.

Cycle Seahaven is appealing to people to object because it says the plan threatens the Egrets Way, a cycle path between Lewes and Newhavem.

Andy Lock, from Cycle Seahaven, said: “This amazing project to safely link the county town with our seaport via the villages of the Lower Ouse is at a vital stage,and this application could jeopardise the hard work that individuals,local and national groups have put into this scheme that will benefit everyone in the area.

“We feel that allowing commercial vehicles (around 50 a day) on what is supposed to be a safe and flat family route is against all we’ve planned and fought for.”

But Mr Taylor said: “This route is also twice as long (to get to Ham Lane from the Rise Farm) as the Stanley Turner route, doubling the potential conflict between cars and other users.

“Furthermore the A27 underpass has been closed on several occasions due to flooding and when this happens Rise Farm is cut off, with no access at all. Emergency vehicles have also struggled to get access via Ham Lane as cars frequently block the route.”

Iford Farms applied for planning permission to the South Downs National Park to remove condition 2 attached to planning approval LW/05/1892 to allow access to and from the site via the Stanley Turner Sports Ground and Kingston Road, Lewes.

Mr Taylor added Iford Estate had agreed to lease land along the River Ouse for the Egrets Way, providing more than a mile of cycle path from Lewes south towards Rodmell.

He pointed out such ventures needed to work for everyone, including local businesses.

Mr Taylor added: “We are not proposing to direct customers along the new route, these will continue to be directed via Cockshut Road, however this route is too low for anything other than a car and OBM’s service vans are forced to use the Ham Lane Route with all the dangers that presents.”

Travel Log Lewes, which promotes sustainable transport, said the route was important to cyclists, walkers, dog walkers and horse riders. It said: “However the lane between the tunnel under the by-pass and the Stanley Turner has very few places where you can get out of the way of a car or a lorry.

“The key reason for not opening up this part of the lane for commercial traffic is that it then becomes practically impossible to stop other vehicles using it.

“Gradually more and more traffic will use the route. It will be practically impossible to erect barriers. Cyclists, walkers and other users will be crowded out.”