Generator Group's temporary hoardings around Lewes Bus Station approved by council

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A developer has secured temporary planning permission to retain a set of controversial hoardings surrounding the former bus station in Lewes.

On Wednesday (August 9), Lewes District Council’s planning committee considered a retrospective application seeking permission to retain the hoardings and gates surrounding the former bus station and Zu Cafe site in Eastgate Street.

Generator Group, the developer behind the application, had been seeking permission to keep the hoardings up for 12 months, but councillors were only willing to grant a six-month consent following debate.

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The application had come in for significant criticism from local residents, who argued the hoardings were unsightly and unnecessary, particularly given that Generator Group had been refused permission to develop the site.

The hoarding surrounding the former bus station in Lewes. (Image via Google Maps).The hoarding surrounding the former bus station in Lewes. (Image via Google Maps).
The hoarding surrounding the former bus station in Lewes. (Image via Google Maps).

Some of these concerns were shared in a statement from town councillor Adrian Ross (Green), which was read on his behalf by district councillor Wendy Maples (Green).

In it, Cllr Ross said: “The site hoardings are unnecessary as there is no construction in progress or plan for the site in the immediate future. Planning permission for the demolition and replacement of bus station buildings has been refused by the South Downs National Park Authority.

“The apparent incidents of attempted break-ins, vandalism, graffiti, anti-social behaviour and illegal parking have in fact only occurred since the applicant withdrew permission for the use of the site as a working bus station, cafe, shop and workshop.

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“The ongoing activity at these businesses ensured the safety and protection of the site. The problem that the hoarding is looking to resolve is therefore entirely of the applicant’s own making. The hoardings themselves have attracted antisocial behaviour, including graffiti and flyposting.

“The easiest way for the applicant to eliminate the incidents that they are concerned about would be to reinstate the use of the bus station.”

While this line of argument saw support among some committee members, planning officers warned that the councillors could not consider the loss of the bus station as part of the application.

Officers also warned councillors against taking issue with the retrospective nature of the application, as this had also caused concerns.

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Ultimately, the majority of committee members felt that there were not sufficient grounds to refuse planning permission for a temporary consent. However, they opted to reduce the amount of time the hoardings could remain from 12 to six months.

They also added an informative condition asking for the hoardings be improved with murals should the permission be extended in future.

These conditions will become irrelevant if Generator Group is successful in securing planning permission to develop the site, as the hoarding will then become permitted development.

The hoardings were erected in November last year, around two months after Generator Group withdrew permission for buses to use the land.

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Generator Group is currently seeking permission for a revised version of its previously-refused plans. This scheme would be made up of three houses and 32 flats.

In response to the refused plans, the South Downs National Park Authority raised concerns about the absence of affordable housing, lack of provision for relocation of bus facilities, ‘overbearing’ design and impact on the conservation area and nearby listed buildings, loss of daylight for a neighbouring East Street residential property and potential issues with suggested areas of tree planting.

For further information on the proposals see application reference SDNP/23/01760/FUL.