Deadlock over Canon O’Donnell Centre’s future

IF I may add briefly to my previous letter on the vexed topic of the Canon O’Donnell Centre in Lewes, I think that the situation may be summed up as one of deadlock, which will lead nowhere in the end, other than dereliction and replacement in the long run, as matters stand at present.

The outlook seems to have become completely polarised between the financial concerns of the developers, for whom total redevelopment is the only answer, the idealised aims of the protectionist lobby, for whom nothing less than total conservation and restoration is acceptable, with the Planning Authority trying to bridge the gap.

This appears to me a recipe for total stalemate, with no solution in sight. The only satisfactory way out of this is in my view a compromise solution of a mixed planning and architectural scheme, providing a sufficiently remunerative financial return to allow the developer/owners to cut their losses within acceptable limits, via retention and regeneration of the Spital Road north wing, plus a sensitively redesigned new south wing alongside Western Road, with a restored terminal element at the street corner.

The Spital Road wing appears ideally suited for restoration as a residential use of appropriate quality, while the present jumble of building elements along Western Road could suitably be replaced by a row of specialised shopping, designed to integrate sensitively with the remainder of the buildings, including an enhanced treatment of the corner block.

It does very much appear that only a compromise solution of this type will provide a way out of the present neutralised and stalemated situation.

Further thinking and a new approach are accordingly highly necessary and desirable, if any progress is to be made.

Michael Parfect, Lewes