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Help Save the Historic Lewes Bus Station

Read on then act. Responses must be in by a week on Friday, the 10th June 2022.

Lewes Bus Station

This is an article by Cllr Adrian Ross

“As you may know, the Generator Group has now submitted an application to South Downs National Park for the ‘demolition and development of bus station site’.  This is a full application for planning permission, rather than the request for advice that they submitted in August 2021.

The Green Party councillors of the town (Lewes), district (Lewes District) and county (East Sussex) have reviewed the plans in detail and do not think they are suitable.  The ‘elephant in the room’ is that the proposals fail to identify a suitable alternative site for the bus station.  Instead, they propose temporary on-street bus stops, or ‘three bus stops plus waiting and seating facilities on Phoenix Causeway’.  Neither of these come anywhere near the Lewes Local Plan requirements for ‘an operationally satisfactory and accessible site’ or a ‘suitable alternative town centre site … offering the same or better undercover waiting facilities’.

The proposals would leave bus passengers waiting under small shelters, directly adjacent to a very busy road, that they would need to cross to change services.  It would also leave the bus companies without space for buses to wait between services, almost certainly leading to gridlock around the town’s narrow streets.

Lewes Bus Station

We have many other concerns with the proposals too, notably:

  • the proposals offer no affordable housing
  • the plans don’t include enough one-bedroom properties, so badly needed by young local people
  • requirements for zero-carbon homes and the use of sustainable materials have been ignored
  • there is no assessment of the air quality impact of moving the bus station
  • viability calculations appear biased to justify not meeting policy requirements

if approved, the plans would severely constrain options for the far bigger North Street Quarter.

If you agree with our concerns, then please respond to the application – we need South Downs National Park to know the strength of opposition to these plans in the town. 

Comments can be submitted via the South Downs National Park planning site at https://planningpublicaccess.southdowns.gov.uk/online-applications/ by searching for application SDNP/22/02197/FUL.  

Objections need to be on the basis of planning policy, so we have written an extensive assessment detailing the policy non-compliance that we have identified. 

A summary is below, and our full Green Party response is available here: https://docs.google.com/document/d/1b8KGHFyrN1ZvCuZQ8Oy5cn0Q353jXgMW/edit?usp=sharing&ouid=102816289702924531298&rtpof=true&sd=true

Alternatively, to make it easy for as many people to respond as possible, we have developed a template response which can be submitted in a few clicks, or edited as required. 

Here’s a link to it : > https://actionnetwork.org/letters/respond-to-lewes-bus-station-application-sdnp2202197ful/ 

NOTE : if you put the objection in your own word it will carry more weight – Editor)

  • Please do take the time to respond to these proposals, which jeopardise public transport in our town. 
  • Please share this information as widely as you can and encourage others to record their objections too.

There is no agreed plan to replace the bus station, as required by South Downs Local Plan Strategic Site Policy SD57 (for ‘North Street Quarter and Adjacent Eastgate Area’).

Neither of the ‘two potential options to replace the existing facilities’ meet any of the requirements of Policy SD57, Policy SD19 (Transport and Accessibility), Lewes Neighbourhood Plan objective 10 (Village & Town Connections) Lewes Neighbourhood Plan Policy HC1 (Protection of Existing & New Community Infrastructure) or Lewes Neighbourhood Plan Policy AM2 (Public Transport Strategy).

Lewes Bus Station and Garage

The obvious solution to keeping a bus station in Lewes – i.e. retaining it on the existing site – has not been properly evaluated.

The proposals offer no affordable housing, in contravention of South Downs Local Plan Strategic Policy SD28 (Affordable Homes), which requires a minimum of 50%.  This is despite the apparent absence of any extraordinary costs such as flood defences, decontamination or provision of community facilities.

The mix of home sizes is not compliant with South Downs Local Plan Strategic Policy SD27 (Mix of Homes), with a significant shortfall of the one-bedroom properties that are in such short supply in the town, and so needed for local young people.

With the proposed relocation of the bus station, the development must be considered to be a ‘major development’ according to SDNPA’s definition.  South Downs Local Plan Core Policy SD3 (Major Development) requires that development proposals should be zero carbon and use sustainable materials.  Current proposals are not compliant with this policy requirement.

The ‘Air Quality Assessment’ does not consider at all the air quality impact of moving the bus station, so does not meet the requirements of South Downs Local Plan Development Management Policy SD54 (Pollution and Air Quality).

Regarding viability, Generator Group bought the site in April 2021 in full knowledge of all planning policies.  Government guidance is clear that ‘site purchasers should consider [policy compliance costs] when agreeing land transactions.

Government advice is also explicit that ‘the price paid for land is not a relevant justification for failing to accord with relevant policies’.  So, if Generator Group overpaid for the land, then that is their mistake and responsibility; residents should not have to pay for it through the loss of both a bus station and affordable housing.

Finally, South Downs Local Plan Strategic Site Policy SD57 (North Street Quarter and Adjacent Eastgate Area, Lewes) requires redevelopment plans ‘to be considered as one’ and proposals to be ‘consistent with other phases/schemes’.  If approved, the bus station plans (especially the proposed relocation of the bus station) would seriously constrain options for the far-larger and more strategically important North Street Quarter.  Therefore, SDNPA must not grant any approval for the bus station site ahead of the North Street proposals.”


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