South Downs National Park planners begin discussions for Lewes bus station location
Members of the Lewes planning authority are 'committed' to finding the best location for a new bus station in the town
South Downs National Park Authority – the planning authority for Lewes – is working with the county council, landowners and the owner of the Lewes bus station to find the best location, including looking further at whether the bus station can be kept at the current site.
On Thursday evening (January 7), selected Lewes councillors attended a meeting with the Generator Group, which owns the bus station site, South Downs National Park Authority (SDNPA), East Sussex County Council (ESCC), bus companies and various community groups to discuss the future of the bus station site.
Green Party councillors have been campaigning to save the Lewes bus station, and Councillor Imogen Makepeace, chair of the Town Council Transport Committee said: "It was great to be able to hear and comment on the views of all stakeholders. The absolute necessity to retain a bus station close to the centre of Lewes was made very clear to the planning authority (SDNPA) and to the Generator Group."
Councillor Wendy Maples, ESCC councillor for the Lewes division said: "ESCC officers said that continuing bus operations would be 'an immense challenge' if the bus station is closed, and made it clear that they think the cost and responsibility of providing a new facility rests with the developer.
"SDNPA confirmed that the Local Plan condition said that the bus station site can only be developed if it is replaced by an 'operationally satisfactory and accessible site' and this is an absolutely key consideration for any planning application on the site."
One of the actions agreed by the SDNPA was to work with the Generator Group to see if there are any opportunities for some elements of the bus station to be retained on the existing site within their proposals.
The Authority also agreed to work with Lewes District Council, which oversees air quality management, to assess any potential impacts on air quality as a result of this proposal.
Finally, the Authority also stated it was happy to work with East Sussex County Council, the Generator Group, Lewes District Council and landowners to help identify the best location for the bus station.
ESCC, SDNPA, Lewes District Council and other local landowners all agreed to work with Generator Group on a fully-integrated transport strategy for Lewes and to see if there are better sites for a bus station in the town.
If no other site could be found, Generator Group always have the option of retaining the bus station on its existing site, either by reducing the footprint of their development, or by building above the bus interchange.
Councillor Adrian Ross argued that: "Generator Group said that retaining the bus station on the site would not be financially viable. But they only purchased the site in April and were well aware of the planning condition. So if the development is not viable, it would only be because they paid too much for the site."
Tim Slaney, SDNPA director of planning and chair of the meeting, concluded by agreeing three actions – to consider further whether the bus station can be retained on the existing site; to assess air-quality impacts with Lewes District Council; and to work with ESCC, Generator Group and adjacent landowners to identify the best location for the bus station.
The South Downs National Park Authority (SDNPA) also pledged to work with Lewes District Council to assess the impact on air quality if the bus station is moved.
Councillor Ross concluded: "We’d like to thank Tim Slaney for chairing the meeting, and we will fully support him on the agreed actions. Following the meeting, we expect Generator Group to withdraw their notice to prevent continued use of the bus station, and to work with all of the other parties to determine the best location for a bus station in Lewes."
Concerned residents are asked to write to SDNPA planners quoting reference SDNP/21/03284/PRE and copying local councillors.