The Planning Committee of the South Downs National Park Authority unanimously rejected the scheme by the developers Quora to demolish the former Magistrates’ Court in Lewes and replace it with a Premier Inn, at a 90-minute meeting on 12 December 2013.
Going against a recommendation for approval by SDNPA officers, Committee members decided the design of the proposed building did not go far enough towards reflecting the distinctiveness of Lewes architecture.
The decision followed speeches from members of the public, including Robert Cheesman, representing the Friends of Lewes, and the South Downs Society.
It is understood that the developer is considering lodging an appeal, submitting a revised application, or withdrawing from the site altogether.
Friends of Lewes press release:
Magistrates’ Court – time to talk say Friends of Lewes
The Friends of Lewes welcome the decision by the National Park Planning Committee to reject on design grounds the application to demolish and redevelop the former Magistrates’ Court building in Friars’ Walk. Friends of Lewes object to the demolition of the existing building unless its replacement is an enhancement to the conservation area and street scene in this key part of the town. However they have no objection to the concept of a low-cost hotel together with retail provision on the site.
The civic society does not want to see this disused building become derelict and so it encourages Quora, the developer to engage as a matter of urgency in meaningful discussions with them, with the planning authorities and other interested groups to see if amendments can be made to the design which would enable the objections to be withdrawn and a fresh application made.
See also the Friends of Lewes responses to consultations on the Quora plans: