Lewes residents fight to stop development in South Downs Road

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ANGRY local residents have voiced their opposition to plans for a major housing and business development in Lewes.

They say the “overwhelming scale” of the proposal, off South Downs Road, is inappropriate for the sensitive area.

A planning application for 53 residential dwellings and 2,653sq m of commercial space has been submitted by Lewis and Co Planning on behalf of River Oaks Homes Limited.

The controversial site, on the corner of Mayhew Way and opposite Malling Recreation Ground, has seen several unsuccessful attempts to gain planning approval due to significant opposition from locals.

It is understood to stand where a rubbish dump was established in Victorian times and as a result may be contaminated. Residents met on Monday at Malling Community Centre to consider the latest proposal, which has now gone before the South Downs National Park Authority.

The meeting was called by the Lewes Town Councillor for Bridge Ward, Matt Kent, after many people contacted him about their concerns. These were the risk of flooding, inappropriate scale, site contamination and the impact on local schools and traffic.

After the meeting, Cllr Kent said: “Many local residents met tonight and unanimously objected to both the residential and commercial properties that are being proposed.

“The proximity, overwhelming scale, site contamination and flooding were discussed at great length and collectively we will campaign to ensure that the South Downs National Park Authority does not approve this scheme.”

He said the proximity of the proposed development to existing mature trees along Blakes Walk made it particularly sensitive.

Cllr Kent continued: “Everyone at the meeting tonight appreciates that Lewes requires good quality, affordable homes in an appropriate location. This scheme does not allow affordable homes nor is it in an appropriate location.”

He claimed: “From recent discussions during the public consultation, we were told these proposed homes could potentially be more than 12 to 15 times the average national salary and offers no affordable homes for those people that want to get on to the already difficult property ladder.”

Commenting on the National Park’s website, local resident John Bennett said: “Noise during construction would be horrendous – will there be weekend working as overtime? What price our right to a peaceful weekend?”

He added: “Traffic chaos during construction would be awful for every single resident who lives in the Malling area of Lewes.”

He was particularly concerned that the iconic views of Lewes town centre would be blocked out.

And Glenn Gazzard asked: “I work nights, how am I going to sleep? Is the Government going to ensure full environmental clean-up of the area, as I believe it is on an old rubbish dump.”

He added: “Will the properties be sold to residents of Lewes, or will they go to out-of-towners?”

The final date for comments on the application, SDNP/12/01557/FUL, is September 10.