Meanwhile a meeting to thrash out concerns has been set up for 6 January by SDNPA (the planning authority for Lewes) at the district council’s request. Other invitees include ESCC, Generator Group (the current landowner) and landowners of other potential sites.
The South Downs National Park Authority Local Plan clearly states that the site can only be redeveloped if a suitable alternative location can be found.
Although the county council feels the site cannot be saved long-term, ‘a suitable alternative facility’ must be found ‘that does not compromise current bus services in the town.’
That’s the view of County Council officers replying to a question from transport campaigner Vic Ient who challenged them last week for staying silent on the issue.Site owners The Generator Group have given notice the site will close to buses prior to potential development into business premises and homes.
Replying to Mr Ient, assistant operations director Karl Taylor said: ‘Our lawyers responded to The Generator Group challenging their notice. Ceasing use of the current bus station without a suitable alternative is not something we wish to see and we are acutely aware of the considerable problems and inconvenience this will create, particularly in this part of the town. Nevertheless we recognise the policy stance referred to. For the Group to meet this it is unlikely to be by way of solution being found overnight. Serving notice on ESCC now is not something we see as necessary.’
Mr Ient said it was ‘gratifying’ ESCC is trying to prevent the local public transport ‘catastrophe’ of the bus station being closed prematurely by developers. He agrees with the action being taken, especially a legal challenge to the Generator Group, which he hopes is successful. But he concludes: “The matter hangs by a single thread which is the National Park’s policy. I trust your lawyers are researching the matter.”
District Councillor Adrian Ross (Green), who wrote to SDNPA and ESCC calling for the January meeting added: It’s clearly up to the developer to negotiate a new site for the bus station if they want to build on the old one. But we need the planning authority, the transport authority and Highways to assess the suitability of any alternative proposals.”