Shops and hotel bid at Lewes Magistrate’s Court site

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A planning application for the former Lewes Magistrates’ Court site in Lewes has been submitted to the South Downs National Park Planning Authority.

Quora (Lewes) Ltd made the application following a public exhibition and consultation earlier this year for residents and stakeholders.

The company said the scheme incorporates new modern retail and leisure facilities on the ground floor of the vacant site, which will be complemented by a hotel on the upper floors, helping to provide an affordable and well located venue for overnight visitors to the South Downs.

Quora believes the development will not only add to the vitality and vibrancy of Lewes town centre but will also help to encourage wider economic growth within Lewes as guests at the hotel shop and eat in the town centre.

The local economy will be further enhanced as the development will help to provide in excess of 60 new full and part-time jobs for the local area, it said.

The building has been “sensitively designed to echo recurring themes in the building materials used in Lewes town centre, and enhance the conservation area within which it will sit, whilst providing a modern and sustainable building for the future”.

Revisions were made to the plans as a result of comments made at the exhibition and additional meetings with specific stakeholder groups.

Quora believes these have helped to create a development that not only fits in well with its surroundings, but positively enhances this area of town.

Visitors to the exhibition were invited to complete a short questionnaire about the proposals.

In summary, 96 per cent felt it was important suitable facilities were provided in Lewes to reflect its status as the county town, and principle destination within the South Downs National Park and 88 per cent supported the proposals for a new hotel in Lewes.

Local job provision was an important element in the proposals, 93 per cent agreed.

Ben Ellis, Director of Quora Ltd said: “We have been delighted by the level of interest shown and invaluable input and suggestions by various stakeholders and the wider community.

“The scheme has evolved as a result and we remain committed to continued discussion and working through all aspects of the proposals.”

The application would involve the demolition of the existing court building in Friars Walk, which was opened by Diana, Princess of Wales, in 1986. It was made redundant in March 2011.