Planning debate as Lewes shapes its future

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How should Lewes look in the future? How can the town’s astonishing early medieval heritage mesh with sensitive modern design? How should housing – including affordable homes for local residents - be associated with the need to create a lively and economically vibrant business community?

The Lewes Neighbourhood Plan took a major step forward last week with the running of a three-day design forum. This event was attended by representatives of literally dozens of influential groups and societies from across Lewes.

They all contributed ideas, suggestions and worked through schemes as to the direction the town should take as the 21st century rolls on.

The forum proved an ideal opportunity for groups and individuals to contribute designs, sketches and written ideas that will influence planning policy for the town.

Representatives from the South Downs National Park were there, as were elected town councillors.

The three-day format allowed small task groups to make site visits to the different parts of Lewes in order to investigate a variety of issues that will influence the shape and direction of the Neighbourhood Plan.

These issues included the importance of maintaining the intrinsically rural nature of the countryside borders to the north of Lewes which give the town its idyllic pastoral feel.

Also debated was the current lack of connected cycling and walking links alongside the river in the centre of the town - critically compared with the way rivers are intregrated into the urban environment of many European towns.

The number of tree-lined streets was a major topic, with most delegates agreeing trees add maturity to architecture both old and new and pressing for a greener agenda as development takes place.

The Lewes Neighbourhood Plan is the first in the country to take an ecosystems approach - assessing all potential policies from the perspective of how they help promote and protect the area’s natural capital including trees and green spaces, biodiversity and the chalklands around Lewes.

The outcome of the three day design forum was captured in an hour-long presentation. Delivered on the Thursday night, this set out the work done to date, achievements and the next steps that should be made in the process. Organisers pressed for more input into this Neighbourhood Plan and asked residents and other groups to make sure they contributed their views.

For more information please visit: www.lewes4all.uk or contact the Town Clerk on: 01273 471469.

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