Seaford Museum submits drawbridge plan for Martello Tower

Drawbridge

Drawbridge

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A drawbridge linking Seaford Museum with the promenade could be built if Lewes District Council gives the scheme the seal of approval.

The museum has applied for planning permission to build the drawbridge to recreate the historic appearance of the building and provide a new entrance.

It is also asking for the go ahead to install a lift linking the lower floor with the moat level, allowing disabled access to the lower levels for the first time.

The Martello Tower is a scheduled ancient monument and dates from 1808.

It was built to defend the coastline between the Ouse and Cuckmere.

Seaford’s tower was the last of 74 Martello Towers put up on the south coast of England to guard against Napoleonic invasion. Today only 26 of the towers survive.

In a report by the architects of the new scheme they argued that the previous loss of the drawbridge and infilling of the seaward half of the moat as an extension of the promenade, as well as the northern side of the moat, had eroded its architectural character.

In the report by Morgan Carn Partnership it said: “Through the passage of time many of the neighbouring towers suffered serious decay, mainly through coastal erosion, with some even being used as targets in military exercises.

“The Martello Tower at Seaford is one of the best surviving examples of this type of military architecture which to this day remains largely intact and maintains many of the original features of the building.”

The drawbridge was previously part of the tower but damaged in the 1880s when the cannon slipped while being removed and crashed into the moat, taking the drawbridge with it.

In a report to the district council, English Heritage supported the scheme.

It said: “We think the proposed development would cause some harm to heritage significance by removing some historic fabric, however on balance we think that the benefits of revealing heritage significance and improving accessibility and marketability - making the place a more sustainable heritage asset - provide clear and convincing justification for the harm and therefore the development is acceptable.”

Residents can look at the plans on the district council’s website in the planning applications section, where they can also submit comments.

These will be taken into account by the district council planning committee, when it meets to discuss the scheme.

The committee will have the final say on the scheme.