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Lewes bus station development

This letter was sent by email to the Generator Group - owners of Lewes bus station - by Cllr Claire Dowling, Lead Member for Transport and Environment, in partnership with the MP for Lewes, the leader of Lewes District Council and the Mayor of Lewes Town Council.

On behalf of:

Maria Caulfield MP
East Sussex County Council
Lewes District Council
Lewes Town Council

To: Paul Isaacs, Managing Director – Generator Group

13 January 2022

Dear Mr Isaacs,

We were shocked and dismayed to learn that you will not allow buses and passengers to use Lewes bus station beyond 18 February and are likely to leave it empty for a year or longer while you pursue plans to develop the site for housing.

As owners of the site, that decision is of course in your power. However, you must know that it’s a choice which will cause considerable disruption, inconvenience and even distress to people in Lewes and surrounding areas, especially those who rely on public transport to go about their lives.

As elected representatives of those people, we urge you to reconsider that decision and to resume working with our organisations so that the bus station site might continue to serve the public while longer-term plans for the site are developed and until an alternative bus station can be provided.

As the transport authority, East Sussex County Council must now put in place alternative arrangements for temporary bus stops around the town centre to ensure bus operators can continue to serve passengers. This will mean there is no shelter for people waiting for buses and it will inevitably cause considerable traffic congestion, delays and inconvenience for bus users, motorists, bus operators and many of the town’s businesses.

While planning for this eventuality is already underway, it would not be necessary to implement this alternative if you would allow the bus station to continue to be used as such until development work is able to proceed.

Do not underestimate the local strength of feeling on this matter. People in the Lewes area will no doubt be baffled and angered to see a largely empty and unused bus station for the next year. They would no doubt thank you if you can be more flexible in your approach to this important site and consider the potential to extend its public benefit, alongside its commercial potential. 

All the public bodies in this case are also happy to continue working with you so that your proposals for the bus station site can eventually satisfy the requirements of Policy SD57 of the South Downs National Park Local Plan.  That policy clearly states: “alternative uses on the bus station site are subject to the facility being replaced by an operationally satisfactory and accessible site elsewhere.” None of us are of the view that your emerging proposals currently demonstrate compliance with this policy.

Yours sincerely,

Maria Caulfield – Member of Parliament for Lewes
Councillor Claire Dowling – Lead Member for Transport and Environment, East Sussex County Council
Councillor Zoe Nicholson – Leader, Lewes District Council
Councillor Stephen Catlin – Mayor, Lewes Town Council