Lewes pavement cordoned off after collapse exposes cellar below

Yawning chasm: The hole which appeared in the pavement in Fisher Street, Lewes
Yawning chasm: The hole which appeared in the pavement in Fisher Street, Lewes

The fragile nature of the streets of Lewes was exposed when a section of pavement collapsed.

It happened in Fisher Street – and revealed the cellar beneath Lewes Tourist Information Centre.

The chasm, thought to have been caused by a heavy vehicle, was swiftly cordoned off from pedestrians.

The building is owned by Lewes District Council. A spokesman said on Wednesday: “We are liaising with East Sussex County Council to have the required repair undertaken as soon as possible.”

Ancient Lewes is rife with subterranean rooms – created when nothing heavier than a horse was on the town’s streets.

The nightmare scenario of a street collapse was raised by former MP Norman Baker nearly six years ago.

He was concerned about a marked deterioration in the condition of Sun Street. Cellars below the predominantly early Victorian terrace extend under the road in front of the houses. It raised the possibility of a vehicle actually smashing through a weakened road surface – with potentially disastrous consequences.

Robert Cheesman, Chairman of the Friends of Lewes, said the Fisher Street repair must be good enough to prevent it happening again and one suitable in a Conservation Area.

He said: “Tarmac or similar should be a temporary repair but the surface should be returned to the original or improved.”

A spokeswoman for East Sussex County Council said: “We were contacted on Friday about a collapsed pavement outside Lewes Tourist Information Centre.

“We made the area safe and contacted the property owner, whose responsibility it is to maintain this area of pavement, and are awaiting a response.”

In the summer of 2016, Station Street in Lewes had to be closed for several week for repairs following the collapse of a sewer beneath it.

A three metre void in the sewer was discovered beneath Patisserie Lewes during repaid work carried out by Southern Water.

The void extended under the road which meant it had to be closed for safety reasons.