Inner Relief Road Plan

The Friends of Lewes’s major successful past campaigns included the halting of the County Council’s disastrous Inner Relief Road Plan, and our championing of the Southern Bypass and the building of the Cuilfail Tunnel.

Lewes would have been split in half by a trunk road running from the Prison Crossroads through The Paddock, skirting Lewes Castle and so to Phoenix Causeway (see map below). Pedestrians wishing to cross this Inner Relief Road from North to South Lewes would have had to use a footbridge or a tunnel. In the event the Southern Bypass was built.

Proposed Lewes relief road

Proposed Route of Relief Road

The relief road was first proposed before the Second World War, and the first stage was approved by the Ministry of Transport in 1963. The first stage, comprising Phoenix Causeway and the widening of Little East Street, was accepted by the Friends of Lewes in principle, but not in detail – in particular, concern was expressed over buildings at the corner of East Street and Market Street.

However, we did support in principle the Southern Bypass, which mustered opposition against the County’s relief road proposals. A long and exhausting campaign followed, culminating with the Public Inquiry in 1972, at which the Friends of Lewes, and all those who had fought for the Bypass, were successful.

A further major issue was the prospect in the 1970s of widening South Street to carry north/south traffic. The Friends of Lewes was again active in promoting the Cuilfail Tunnel which became the preferred route.