Development - we need solutions worthy of the town

The April meeting of the national park’s Planning Committee has finally rejected plans to build 53 dwellings plus office space on waste land opposite Sackville House in South Downs Road, Lewes.

A planning application from builders, River Oaks Homes Ltd, first went before the committee in December but, pressed by many objectors including the South Downs Society and the Friends of Lewes, members neither approved nor refused the application but deferred it to allow the developer the opportunity to improve the appearance of the dwellings, incorporate appropriate sustainability measures and consider the possibility of including provision for “affordable housing”.

The application was eventually brought back to the committee last week (April 11) but members voted overwhelmingly to refuse planning permission.

Few of us objectors had any problem with the principle of developing the site but we did want to see some affordable housing in there, rather than the extra office space for which there doesn’t currently seem to be much need.

And we said we wanted to see a scheme that looked fitting for Lewes in terms of its design, scale and height, indeed something appropriate in the national park.

We face a number of other potentially controversial developments in the town in the near future, including the Phoenix quarter and the old magistrates’ courts. Let us hope that the developers of these, and other, sites in Lewes take seriously the outcome of their public consultations and that the national park authority and district council can show determination to produce solutions worthy of the county town.

Steve Ankers

Policy Officer, South Downs Society