Have your say on plans for former St Anne’s School in Lewes

Members of Lewes Subud
Members of Lewes Subud

The Lewes community is being invited to share and shape the future use of the St Anne’s School site by new owners Subud.

Initial plans for its transformation into an active social and community hub will be discussed at two open evenings being held by the spiritual group at Subud House, 26a Station Street, today (Friday) at 6pm and September 26 at 7pm.

The bid for community use was awarded to Subud Lewes in October last year after it submitted a bid along with the Lewes Community Land Trust and the YMCA.

Subud Lewes produced a proposal to East Sussex County Council motivated by the opportunity to create an inspiring place for the Lewes community.

Meetings were held with community groups, including 3VA, Sussex Wildlife and the St Anne’s Steering Committee to shape and inform the proposal.

A recent public meeting saw a group of residents calling for transparency about how East Sussex County Council awarded the site to Subud as the lowest bidder.

Subud said the council advice was to keep information confidential during the lengthy bidding process but now members want to address subsequent speculation.

Subud (short for the Sanskrit - Susila Budhi Dharma) Lewes is part of a worldwide community of around 10,000 active members who practice a spiritual exercise with no teaching or ideology.

Subud is built on the individual experiences of the diverse membership who come from every walk of life, every religion or of no religion, every race and country.

The group said the heart of the St Anne’s proposal is to create a ‘community space and social hub that will reach out to all ages and preserve green space for public use’.

The plan is for a phased development working with the active involvement of the wider community and other partners in Lewes.

In Lewes, Subud have about 150 members who have been active in the town for the last 35 years.

They said some local parents and members founded the Lewes New School, (opened in 2000) a school for ‘human scale’ and ‘human centered education’ – with links to Sussex University.

A Lewes based charity ‘Living Well Dying Well’ focuses on new approaches to end of life support for the dying, was started by Hermione Elliot.

The group said Pelham House hotel and conference centre is not owned by the Subud organisation, it was started by four Lewes families who are Subud members who put their own houses as collateral with the ethical bank, Triodos who helped fund the project.

A spokesperson said: “Since the bid was awarded, the advise of the East Sussex County council was that information should be confidential during the lengthy bidding process. This lack of information has generated much speculation regarding the winning bid and the future of the site.To counter this Subud Lewes is holding two open evenings to present the concept so far, to invite participation from the Lewes community to provide feedback, input to shape the final use of St Anne’s and to answer any questions on the proposal or on Subud.”

For those who are unable to attend the open evenings, detailed information on the St Anne proposal and background information on Subud is available online at http://www.lewessubudcentre.co.uk/st-annes-project

The Sussex Express has been asked to clarify the wording of a motion voted on at last week’s public meeting at Lewes Town Hall. It was ‘Do you think that the process of the sale of the St Anne’s site has been sufficiently clear?’