‘Street furniture in precinct does not have permission’

Opinion divided ... Cllr Stephen Catlin and, seated, Cllr Graham Mayhew
Opinion divided ... Cllr Stephen Catlin and, seated, Cllr Graham Mayhew

A collection of tables, benches and planters outside a Lewes bakery has sprung up without permission, according to the local authority.

The Bake Out street furniture in the Cliffe Precinct has divided public opinion.

Cllr Stephen Catlin said he had reservations. Residents had told him it was a danger to the partially sighted and potentially a source of anti-social behaviour at night.

He understood consent had been given as a temporary measure awaiting public feedback but this was later denied by Lewes District Council.

Cllr Graham Mayhew, a colleague on Lewes Town Council, said: “I take a rather different view to Stephen on this.

“Personally I think the introduction of seating outside cafes in both the precinct and Cliffe High Street has hugely added to people’s enjoyment of the area.

“Costa has taken over one part, there are chairs and tables outside Waterstones, the cafe in the Riverside has taken over the whole of the Town Wharf area beside Cliffe Bridge, where Lewes residents have had right of access to the river since the Middle Ages, Bill’s has taken over large areas of the pavement and so has Le Magasin.

“I think Bake Out have done it really nicely and the fact that it is well used shows lots of people like it. There is still more than enough room for people to walk.

“I think it’s helped give life to the precinct and I understand it is all easily moveable for market days or Bonfire Night. It gives Lewes a more continental feel, and it adds to the places where people can meet and chat. I welcome it and would be sorry to see it go.”

A spokesman for Lewes District Council said: “The seating and tables outside Bake Out were installed without permission.

“Accordingly, the council has instructed the business owners to submit a planning application that will be considered in due course.”

Bake Out, which offers hot food and drinks, launched in Lewes in early 2016 on the former Forfars bakery site.

Since then two further stores have opened in Hassocks and Southwick, together with a bistro-style outlet in Hove.

Bake Out’s website says: “Our dedicated bakery team work through the night in order to fill our stores with beautiful artisan bread, freshly baked savouries and hand-made goods.”