Plan to convert Canon O’Donnell Centre in Lewes into homes

Canon O'Donnell centre Lewes
Canon O'Donnell centre Lewes

New plans have been submitted to convert the Canon O’Donnell Community Centre in Lewes into four three bedroom houses.

Applicant Mr Essam Barakat lodged the application for the controversial building in Western Road with planners this week and it is due to go before the South Downs planning committee in April.

A Heritage Statement with the application said: “The objective of the proposals is to bring back into use a popular and significant building, in a key location on the western approach into Lewes town centre, which is located in the South Downs National Park.

“The intention is to restore the building to its original condition with understated and sympathetic additions and alterations, allowing a viable building type to be delivered.

“The view held by Lewes District Council’s planning and conservation officers is that the building makes a positive contribution to the character and appearance of this part of the town and that its retention and refurbishment is the preferred outcome of any redevelopment.

“A significant majority of the existing external fabric will be retained and renovated, with only two small areas of demolition required within the existing courtyard. “Minor additions are being made to the elevations, including six lead dormers, six conservation rooflights, several windows and doors in new openings (to match the style of the existing) and some new sections of garden walling and gates to the courtyard.

“Existing windows will be replaced with new windows, again to match the style of the existing.

“The interior of the building will be significantly remodelled with new floor and room arrangements that allow residential accommodation to be provided.

“The proposed scheme provides a sustainable use for an otherwise redundant building that is currently in poor condition.

“Sensitive and sympathetic alterations and additions sit comfortably with the existing fabric and ensure that the redevelopment responds to and is respectful of, its context.

“The building will have a positive impact on neighbouring properties and also the general street scene, both in terms of its refreshed appearance and its sustainable, long term use.

The Arts and Crafts style building from around 1907 has not been used for about five years.

Previous plans to demolish it and build flats were dismissed at appeal.

The Friends of Lewes said: “The Friends of Lewes welcome the fact that a modified proposal has been put forward for the Canon O’Donnell Hall, as we are concerned about the dilapidated appearance of the existing disused building in such a visible part of the town.

“This proposal avoids demolition and preserves many features of the original style and is thus an improvement on the intensive 2011 proposals.

“However, the Friends of Lewes will need to carefully consider the detailed design and traffic implications before commenting further.”

The Friends were among objectors to the previous plans.