Controversial work to demolish former courts is underway


Work has begun on the controversial demolition of the former Lewes Magistrates’ Court to make way for a hotel.

Contractors have moved on to the site and started knocking down the building, which is set to be replaced by a Premier Inn and a number of retail outlets.

The controversial decision by the South Downs National Park Authority to grant planning permission to developers Quora in December 2014 was met with much opposition from local residents, many of whom supported a separate proposal to convert the historic building into a ‘centre of excellence in the production of film, theatre and television’.

Quora and the SDNPA will continue to hold monthly community liaison group meetings throughout the construction phase.

These are not public meetings and Quora insists there has been careful consideration of relevant bodies to have representatives attending, including the Town Council, the District Council, Friends of Lewes and the Conservation Area Advisory Group, together with residents representing Court Road, and Friars Walk.

The purpose of the group is to provide a forum for discussion of any issues arising through the construction stage. The minutes of the meetings will be made publicly available.

A Quora spokesperson said: “We are really pleased to get further along the road to getting this important site redeveloped. We are keen to share our progress with the Liaison group and hear their thoughts.”

It is hoped the hotel will open in summer 2016.

The plan to build a 62-bed budget hotel on the site was originally rejected by the SDNPA in December 2013, with committee members ‘worried the design of the proposed building did not go far enough towards reflecting the distinctiveness of Lewes architecture’.

However, a year later, a revised plan to build a 59-bed hotel and shops was approved by committee members, agreeing with the planning officers’ recommendation for approval, subject to conditions.

These include financial contributions and restricting the ability of the hotel operators to apply for hotel/business parking permits within public car parks in Lewes.

A Quora spokesperson added: “We will continue the working relationships forged with local groups and look forward to delivering the scheme, finally.”

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