There has been a mixed reaction to plans for the former Lewes Magistrates’ Court site – with one resident branding them “truly horrific”.
But the developers have insisted there is an overwhelming level of support for the proposals, which would involve the demolition of the redundant building in Friars Walk.
Quora Ltd held a public exhibition at the venue last week to consult local residents, businesses and stakeholders.
It said the proposals seek to re-develop and regenerate the site by providing new retail and leisure facilities on the ground floor, and a hotel on the upper floors in a replacement building designed to enhance the Conservation Area.
Shops will add to the vitality and vibrancy of the town centre during the day, Quora said, and the hotel would encourage economic growth with people staying in Lewes overnight, and shopping and eating in the town.
But one online post on a local forum said: “They are hoping to get away with building a featureless flat-roofed box by nailing a few slates to one end and a few planks to the other – it is truly horrific!”
Key members of the consultant team were on hand to answer questions at the exhibition and visitors were asked to complete questionnaires which are currently being reviewed.
Feedback received will then be used to assist in modifying the proposals “to create the best possible scheme for the site”.
Quora said initial feedback received will be “very useful in helping to shape the scheme, and demonstrates that there is an overwhelming level of support for the proposed development on this site”.
The exhibition, which attracted a “significant” number of visitors, forms part of a wider consultation programme, which includes Quora working with the Town Council, Friends of Lewes, the Lewes Conservation Area Advisory Group, the South Downs Society, the local Chamber of Commerce and the South Downs Design Review Panel over the coming weeks.
Quora is working towards submitting a planning application at the end of next month.
Ben Ellis, Director of Quora Developments Ltd, said: “We are delighted by the positive responses we are receiving and the invaluable input from the various interest groups we have consulted as well as local businesses and residents.
“There has been significant support for the types of uses proposed, and we are in the process of feeding in all comments we have gathered. The design has already evolved following the public consultation, where some excellent suggestions were made.”
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