Plan for hotel at Magistrates’ Court in Lewes “should be vigorously resisted”

Former Lewes magistrates court building
Former Lewes magistrates court building

Plans for a 62-bed hotel and shops on the site of the former Magistrates’ Court in Lewes “should be vigorously resisted”, a local resident insists.

John Anderson, a member of the 50-strong Lewes Town and Country B&B Group, described the application as a “planning disaster”.

He said his views were not “nimby” because of the potential loss of bed and breakfast business, which he said members of the group could expect as a matter of course.

Mr Anderson said he did not think there had been a proper consultation process over the plans submitted by Quora (Lewes) Ltd. Known existing providers of accommodation should have been approached for their views, but this had not happened in the case of his group as far as he understood.

Premier Inn has been widely reported as the interested hotel party at the Friars Walk site. This was part of Whitbread, a multinational, and any money earned would not stay in Lewes to support the local economy but rather would go to shareholders elsewhere, he said. “All of the money earned by our B&B group stays here in the local economy and helps us all, including our local traders and shopkeepers,” said Mr Anderson. “Premier Inn hotel supplies will almost certainly be sourced from out of town catering conglomerates already supplying Whitbread hotel and restaurant chains elsewhere.”

Mr Anderson, of East Chiltington, continued: “The shops and businesses that are proposed to occupy the ground level of this ungainly new structure are unlikely to be occupied by those smaller shops and businesses which are already being forced out by massive rents and rates in the town precinct.

“Instead, the spaces will be occupied by the big names and chains that are taking over every town centre in the country and are successfully killing the small shops and businesses that characterise attractive market towns like Lewes.

“The only way to avoid this is to resist this hotel proposal vigorously.”

He feared the hotel would take away the limited number of parking spaces to provide parking fot its guests, to the detriment of Lewes town and country dwellers alike.

Mr Anderson added: “The whole thing is a planning disaster, not thought through, and a knee jerk reaction to a perceived need to sell an existing, very solidly built, modern high security building for which a more suitable purpose than demolition could intelligently be found.

“I believe that this ill-conceived planning application should be thrown out of the South Downs National Park court without further delay.”