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Proposal to convert former magistrates court building
5:40am Wednesday 7th May 2014 in News
THE CONVERSION of a former law court into a budget hotel is back on the cards after developers made a renewed bid to redevelop the site.
Quora Ltd has submitted new plans to the South Downs National Park Authority to convert the former magistrates’ court in Lewes into a 59-room Premier Inn and new shop units.
The firm modified their plans after an application was rejected in December because their designs failed to match the character of the town.
The plans may end the slim hopes that the Lewes Rep Theatre had of taking over the courts after their previous home went up in flames.
The applicant states the new design is smaller with three less rooms and a new roof of ridges, eaves and gables designed to be in keeping with the character of Lewes.
An opposition group calling itself Save Lewes Architecture argue the new hotel is not needed and that the site could be redeveloped into a business and creative hub.
They have arranged a meeting tomorrow where they hope to bring together parties from both sides of the proposal.
A Quora spokeswoman said: “Quora has repeatedly said they are happy to listen to views and take on board comments throughout the planning application process.
“The need for a new hotel and the principle of the development were approved last year and we are now focusing on agreeing the design of the scheme.
“We are consulting local people by meeting with local groups and other community representatives.”
Theatre founder Sean O’Kane said two upcoming productions have been put on hold because funding from the Arts Council was on the proviso the plays were first performed in Lewes before touring.
The theatre has now resubmitted applications for funding and Mr O’Kane says the theatre is back to square one with the plays while they find a new home.
Mr O’Kane said they still hope to be included in the redevelopment of the Phoenix Industrial Estate, where their former home is.
He said: “Local councillors want us to take over the empty magistrates’ court but I think our chances are slim because we are competing against big money.”
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