LETTER: Keep hands off St Mary’s site

We are writing in response to the district council’s plans to build housing on St Mary’s site.

We view the proposal to build any housing at all, of any type, on this site, as damaging to the quality of life of local people.

The whole site is used for a large number and large range of services, facilities for local people. Many of these activities are run by volunteers and all activities are an important part of the lives of the local people, and have been for decades.

It would not be possible to build on this site, even one house – let alone “some” houses – without physically taking away some of the activities that go on there.

There is no surplus unused space on the site. Building houses on that site would mean the immediate end to some of the facilities there. 
This is not acceptable to local residents.

Some of the facilities at St Mary’s – pre-school play groups, the activities for young people, the pantomime, the social clubs for adults – these and other activities important to local families, have been taking place there for decades. They form a precious and long-standing traditional part of the life of this community, throughout its entire age spectrum.

We ourselves have seen children grow up using the site’s activities, then as adults helping to run and maintain them. There is too little of this continuity in modern life, and it should not be destroyed – which any partial loss of the site would result in.

Our family has used St Mary’s since 1980. It is local. We can walk to it. Our own children went to the playgroups from the 1980s, attended the pantomime, took part in the flower shows. Our foster children attended the same playgroup last year. The club facilities have been crucial in helping our teenage fostered child. St Mary’s is a loved, unique, and very precious local phenomenon.

It should not be damaged in any way for any reason – certainly not for the council’s short term one-off financial benefit. Yes, Lewes needs housing – but St Mary’s site is not appropriate for it.

The loss of facilities to hundreds of local residents by building on this site would grossly outweigh the benefit to the small number of families who could be accommodated there.

G and C Gabel

Southdown Ave, Lewes