New look to come on Lewes hotel plan

The latest hotel plan
The latest hotel plan

Developer Quora has confirmed it proposes to submit a new set of application drawings next week, in response to local feedback regarding the design of the proposed new building on the site of the former Magistrates’ Court in Lewes.

A second planning application for the site was submitted in late March, after the South Downs National Park Authority refused the previous application on design grounds in December last year.

The amendments will focus on further changes to the design of the scheme.

A Quora spokesperson confirmed: “Over recent years we have considered many ideas for the site and we have had to be realistic about what is viable.

“Adapting the former Lewes Magistrates’ Court to create a hotel is not a viable option. English Heritage has said this and in the Sussex Express Save Lewes Architecture and Say No to Lewes Premier Inn said National Park officers have already confirmed this directly to them.”

Earlier this month Quora organised for almost 7,000 leaflets to be distributed to local addresses. The leaflet incorporated a freepost response form to encourage more local people to get involved with shaping the final design of the proposed new building.

The spokesperson continued: “We have always said we would be happy to make changes to the design in response to local feedback.

“In any town where new developments are being considered gathering a wide cross-section of views and building some consensus can be tough and many local people have acknowledged to us that Lewes is about as tough as it gets!

“We are pleased that more people are taking the time to let us know their opinions. There are so many different perspectives, that we will never be able to please everyone, but I hope it is evident that we are keen to listen, take on board local opinion and develop a high quality, carefully designed scheme that is welcomed by many.”

It is expected that the new drawings will be submitted next week and a summary of the feedback generated by Quora’s leaflet will be available in July.

Meanwhile, Lewes Conservation Area Advisory Group recently made a recommendation to the South Downs National Park Authority to reject the current planning application to demolish the former court and replace it with a budget hotel.

A spokesperson said: “Lewes CAAG feel it is important that readers should know the reason for proposing rejection.

“First, our group endorses the need for additional hotel accommodation in Lewes.

“Second, we agree that the former Magistrates’ Court building is unlikely to be convertible into a hotel. However demolition should not be allowed until a superior design has been produced.

“Our recommendation against the application has been made purely on design grounds; we believe that this important site in the heart of the town and its Conservation Area deserves a building that will be the pride of Lewesians and the envy of visitors. In CAAG opinion, the current design falls short.”