Lewes town plan a disaster waiting to happen

Regular readers may not be surprised to hear that I am in broad agreement with that other local manofletters, Brian Beck – and many other correspondents besides.

While those of us who disagree with “A Voice for Lewes” are quite happy to have our names attached to our opinions, The Voices seem to think they are entitled to anonymity; they continue to hide behind an inappropriate self-given epithet. Whose voices are they – and why do they think they speak for all of Lewes?

Mr Beck made a very important point. While not being a structural engineer or groundwork specialist myself, I would have thought that building an artificial mound between a notoriously mischievous river and the boggy wasteland beyond the Pells towards Landport would be a very shaky proposition.

Do we really want a 21st century Silbury Hill to interrupt the Lewes skyline and spoil the view of what little remains of our Norman motte & bailey? ‘Castles in the air’ daydreams such as this sound like a disaster waiting to happen.

How many times would they be prepared to rebuild? ‘Cos I can see such a dodgy castle burning down, falling over and sinking into the swamp any number of times.

And yes – Ringmer used to be a rural idyll, at least it was while I was growing up. I still defy anyone to sit on a bench on the Village Green and imagine themselves anywhere other than somewhere like Hobbiton. Unfortunately, over the years it has turned into an urban sprawl something more like the despoiled Hobbiton after Saruman had finished with it, complete with pointless wind turbine to match his noisome mill.

While I wouldn’t wish the same on Intransigent Town Lewes (copyright: The Elly) it is about time the various factions stopped dreaming implausible dreams and tried to come up with more practical and achievable ways forward.

Nostalgia’s all very well in its place but we’re better off preserving our existing medieval twittens as they are rather than trying to create modern pastiches which would probably end up looking like flint-knapped shopping malls anyway.

Optimism is one thing but pie-in-the-sky hippy idealism is one thing that Lewes has never been short of, no matter how professional The Voices claim to be – this country is chock-full of professional people lacking their requisite ration of common sense – and it is widely accepted that William Blake was ‘on something’ too.

You want to start an architectural revolution? Well, we all wanna see the plans. I for one positively look forward to receiving my copy of The Voices’ full set of proposals, I could do with a good laugh.

No doubt it’ll be printed in full colour on glossy eco-friendly recycled paper and bound in lavishly-tooled climate change denier’s skin by a workshop run by Palestinian refugees. But as ‘A Voice for Lewes’ is made up of self-described and doubtless well-heeled professional people (no doubt educated very extensively over the years at Sussex University and elsewhere at the taxpayer’s expense) I dare say they’ll be charging at least twenty-five quid for such an elegant yet slim volume.

Let’s live in hope, certainly – but let us not be completely delusional!

Clive Hobden

Lewes