Our heritage includes several very well-known buildings namely the Lewes Castle, Anne of Cleves House and Lewes Priory. In addition, there are many buildings of note whether listed, old, of interesting construction or connected with someone famous. A number of these open their doors to the public during Heritage Open Days, organised by our members. Other buildings and structures are at risk and we need to ensure that they do not fall into decay and that they are not replaced with soulless modern structures. Much of the town falls into one of two conservation areas, with consequent restrictions on planning permission.
Our heritage is not limited to buildings. An important aspect of Lewes is its street scene, including its mediaeval “twittens” and the historic street plan. Many ancient flint walls are still in existence and we want to preserve them, encouraging their maintenance. Lewes also has important green areas and parks.
Cast iron commemorative plaques, provided in conjunction with Lewes Town Council, have been put up on various buildings and structures around the town. They are intended to inform visitors and residents of historic points of interest around our town and to help bring history to life.
A vital and necessary first step in conserving heritage is to comment upon and help shape relevant planning policies. Our Planning Committee meets monthly to give detailed scrutiny to planning applications and whether they comply with planning policy. They submit comments as appropriate on them, and their Planning Committee Reports are made available. When possible, we meet developers before they commit to a project, in order to obtain the best possible outcome for the town. We continue to monitor developments during the building phase and where appropriate, we seek to be appointed to any committee overseeing this. The Friends of Lewes also publishes its responses to public consultations run by the local authorities on planning matters affecting the town.
Where it is proposed to demolish a significant building, we try to ensure that, if it cannot be saved, it is replaced with one that has at least equal architectural merit and fits in with its surroundings.
Most of Lewes is in a Conservation Area – see the map and description. For modifications to existing buildings in the Conservation Areas, we check that guiding principles are followed. We have written or updated Advice Notes on design of dormer windows, shopfronts, and garden rooms to show how those principles apply in practice.
For new buildings, we are opposed to using greenfield sites.
We continue to meet regularly with the Highway Authority to press for the use of traditional materials for the maintenance and repair of existing pavements and street lighting in the Conservation Areas. Pavement repairs should be of a material appropriate to the location and instigated promptly after utility repairs. We are pressing for a standardization of street lighting in keeping with the Conservation Areas.