After submitting our comments on the draft neighbourhood plan for the town of Lewes, we have written to local press as follows:
The South Downs Society warmly welcomes the Lewes neighbourhood plan recently out for consultation. The town council and the plan team are to be congratulated in so clearly identifying what makes Lewes “Lewes” and coming up with a set of draft policies — all of which we endorse — aimed at conserving and enhancing those special qualities while producing what appear practical proposals for the town’s economic and social vitality and its need for genuinely affordable housing.
As the “Friends” group for the national park the Society has a particular interest in its biggest town and the role it plays as historic and architectural jewel, focus for creativity and nonconformism, key service centre and destination for tourists and visitors.
We have reservations about one or two of the proposed sites for new housing, required to meet demanding government targets and genuine local need, but the plan team have worked well to identify “brownfield” sites already or previously built on and protect the open downland around the town from development. They should be supported.
Some of the sites put forward for new dwellings are currently in use for car parking. While we wholeheartedly back the plan principle that cars should not take priority in the town over walkers and cyclists, there will need to be provision for parking in the right areas and we note the intention in the plan to adopt a comprehensive, rationalised approach,
The neighbourhood plan has a number of hoops still to be negotiated but this Society feels that a significant and positive step has been taken.
Steve Ankers, South Downs Society and Lewes resident.