Hotel set to replace former Lewes court

Artists' impression of Premier Inn, Lewes.
Artists' impression of Premier Inn, Lewes.

Controversial plans to demolish the old Lewes Magistrates’ Court and build a Premier Inn were approved yesterday (Thursday).

Developer Quora can replace the Friars Walk building with a 59 bed hotel and shops.

Campaigners lobbied the South Downs National Park meeting in Midhurst but their objections were over-ruled by the committee which agreed 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 said: “We are delighted with the result and would like to thank everyone who has supported the application.

“We will continue the working relationships forged with local groups and look forward to delivering the scheme finally.”

Keep Lewes Lewes campaigners, however, said only two committee members, one a Southease representative, spoke about the town and its needs and parking problems were not considered.

A spokesperson said: “They said people staying in the Premier Inn could park in the North Street quarter. They will have a long way to walk.”

Public car parks could be used overnight but only for two hours during the day.

They also felt a layby on the plans was too small for Premier Inn delivery lorries.

Campaigners said the committee was not prepared to consider the alternative plan, which did not involve demolition and included housing for first time buyers and community art space.

“This application should have been put off until the other application was discussed,” the spokesperson said.

“One of the members thanked the developers for staying with the process rather than going to appeal which was thinking about money.”

At the same meeting plans for a three-screen cinema at the former Harveys depot building at Pinwell Road, Lewes, were also approved.

The building will be converted, adapted and extended and will also house education/training facilities, a multi-use room for training/community use, ancillary cafe bar and restaurant and ancillary back and front of house accommodation.

The Depot’s creative director and programmer Carmen Slijpen said there was plenty of celebration at the meeting .

“We now have to discharge the conditions and start building,” she said.