Former Lewes Magistrates’ court site - Friends of Lewes working for a pleasing design

At a meeting of its Planning Committee last week, the South Downs National Park Authority approved the latest plans for demolishing the redundant courthouse in Friars Walk, to be replaced by a two storey Premier Inn with retail outlets on the ground floor.

As the Friends of Lewes had no objection to the concept of demolishing a disused building, nor with the idea of a budget hotel, its concern has been to ensure that the design of the new building would be better than the existing one .

It was therefore actively involved with the developer in having significant amendments made to the original plans, so that the final design respects its proximity to Fitzroy House and will provide a building that is visually as acceptable as the courthouse. While the society had put forward a number of detailed design points which were not included in the approved plans, one condition to the approval is that a liaison group with local interests is set up by the developer to monitor the project and these points can be considered then. The Friends of Lewes are pleased to have been able to influence the design of this development so that its original criteria of having a replacement which is sympathetic to this central part of the town and its conservation area have been achieved.

Robert Cheesman

chairman, Friends of Lewes