Three screen cinema could be built in Lewes

Harvey's Depot to be turned into a Cinema. 'Robert Senior, Carmen Slijpen and Miles Jenner.
Harvey's Depot to be turned into a Cinema. 'Robert Senior, Carmen Slijpen and Miles Jenner.

A three screen digital cinema could be built in Lewes if the South Downs National Park Authority planning committee gives the scheme the go ahead.

Councillors will consider a proposal to convert, adapt and extend the former Harveys Depot building in Pinwell Road to house the cinema, film education/training facilities and multi use room for training and community use.

The proposal received overwhelming support from the community with 140 people writing to the national park in support of the scheme.

The Friends of Lewes supported it, commending the design of the building and supporting the conversion of the building for public use.

But Lewes Film Club, which made what was described in the planning officers’ report, as a neutral comment, said it did not think enough people would use the cinema to make it viable, adding it would find very few films worth screening once the cinema opened.

A total of 15 people objected to the scheme, raising concerns about traffic and parking and that Lewes did not need a multiplex cinema.

The planning officers’ report to the planning committee said: “The proposed development would reuse an existing building on a brownfield site and would provide a development that would make a positive contribution to the character of Lewes conservation area.

“The proposed uses are considered appropriate for this sustainable location and would contribute to the vitality of Lewes and would help to reinforce Lewes as a principle leisure, cultural and visitor destination with a development which embodies the diverse character of Lewes.

“The design of the proposed development has responded to the historical significance and character of its context in both its architecture and landscape design to deliver a valuable cultural and community facility that would be an enhancement to the area.”

Screen one would have 140 seats, screen two would have 129 seats and screen three 37 seats. The cafe bar would have space for 60 covers.

The site was previously used as a depot for Harveys Brewery, although it has been unused for some time.

The planning application from charity Lewes Community Screen asks permission for change of use and conversion into a cinema.

In the report to the planning committee, it said: “The South Downs National Park historic building officer has commented that the existing building makes a significant contribution to the Lewes Conservation Area.

“The proposal would have no detriment on the setting or significance of the listed buildings or conservation area and would conserve and enhance the cultural heritage of the area through retention of an important building.”