Premier Inn to be built on Lewes Magistrates’ Court site

Lewes old magistrates court
Lewes old magistrates court

The former Magistrates’ Court in Lewes looks set to become a Premier Inn following completion of its protracted sale last week.

But the deal would involve demolition of the purpose-built bomb-proof building, opened by Diana, Princess of Wales, in 1986.

An ambitious future for the prime site in Friars Walk was outlined to members of Lewes Town Council’s Planning Committee on Tuesday.

The 20-minute presentation was made by new owner Quora Developments, architects Juice and planning experts Planning Potential.

It revealed the budget hotel chain’s hopes of opening a 60-bed facility on the second and third floors of a three-storey building, with up to four retail outlets on street level.

The clothing chain Jigsaw was mooted as one of the potential shops.

The court was closed in March 2011 as part of cost-cutting measures. It was put on the market in February last year by the Ministry of Justice Estate Directorate with the sale being handled by agents Jones Lange LaSalle.

While no purchase price has been disclosed, it is understood to have sold for about £1m.

Quora’s website states that it acquires land, promotes its development and delivers regeneration – “providing retail and mixed-use developments for the particular local community to be proud of”.

The sale included the former court’s car park, which has space for nearly 50 vehicles.

Because of its specific use and design, the existing building could not be adapted and would have to be razed to the ground.

A similar presentation had earlier been made to Lewes Chamber of Commerce.