Concerns over Magistrates Court site have been brushed over

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I was interested to see the front page of the Lewes edition (October 18) excitedly headlining changes to the planned development proposed for after demolition of the Magistrates Court.

On closer inspection of the plans –rather than the delicate ‘artist’s impression’ with strategically placed trees to hide sight lines – it is apparent, and confirmed by my correspondence with Ben Ellis of Quora, that these changes are insignificant:

“We have made changes to the elevational treatment so far as style and materials are concerned, to ensure it looks interesting and attractive. We are opting for hung slate tiles, which is hopefully more in keeping with more traditional design in Lewes. You are correct that we have not adjusted the height or positioning.”

So in actuality these headlined changes are only minor amendments made to the exterior design, all of which are superficial in terms of using tiling instead of wood fascias, minor adjustments to window lines etc. – although perhaps to be welcomed if this monstrosity is indeed given the go-ahead.

The key elements and causes for concern, for example, those of it being a basic cuboid insensitively placed in very close proximity to current buildings thus starving them of light, of overwhelming height and boring design in a conservation area of interesting buildings, with insufficient parking provision etc have not been addressed.

What is the point of a consultation exercise if the concerns raised are minimally addressed? What does it take to get some sense into planning issues in town centres? Surely some consideration could produce a viable and economic use of the current building? May I suggest moving ESCC workers into the Magistrates Court and either utilising the basic cuboid that is County Hall (the planning disaster of the 60s) as a hotel, or replacing that building with another basic cuboid which would at least be only as detrimental to Lewes as the current building!

Eleanor Austin