Lewes Subud Group to take over the derelict St Anne’s School

The former school site

The former school site

First published in News by

Controversy surrounds a spiritual group that is set to take over a former school site.

Lewes Subud Group looks set to use the 4.4-acre site of derelict St Anne’s School, Lewes, for community use but residents and councillors think it is needed for housing.

The group, a registered charity and part of an international movement, hopes to build two halls for spiritual exercises, a meeting room and a community cafe as well as “eco lodge” rooms for tourists.

Subud won the site in May 2013 even though its bid to East Sussex County Council (ESCC) was not the highest financially.

Residents have criticised the decision on the Lewes Forum website, aghast that what has been described as a “cult” or “sect” has been put before housing.

Annabella Ashby, of Lewes Subud Centre, said: “We have Jewish, Christian and Muslim members. We are not a sect.”

She added that the land will still be open access.

ESCC discouraged residential bids for the land and had concerns about housing.

Lewes councillor John Stockdale said the land could take 40 new properties.

He said: “It is probably the best site in town. It is galling as we are struggling to build good housing in the area.”

Subud’s bid was awarded last October. It intends to hold an event in September for people to have a look at its plans and aims for planning permission by February.

An ESCC spokesman said: “We felt it was important that the community was represented in choosing the bid, so an assessment panel was formed.

“Subud was unanimously chosen as the preferred bid.

“When we dispose of a site it’s important we consider not just the financial value from its sale but the best benefits for the community.”

ESCC expects the deal to go through in the next few weeks. Subud would then have to submit a planning application to Lewes District Council.

Comments (16)

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8:06am Fri 1 Aug 14

s&k says...

Yeah, never mind the homeless or young families on low incomes.
Yeah, never mind the homeless or young families on low incomes. s&k
  • Score: 9

8:47am Fri 1 Aug 14

Can this be says...

Are we, or are we not, short of land for housing? I am confused.

Looks like ESCC and Lewes DC might be able to help out Brighton and Hove CC with its problems.
Are we, or are we not, short of land for housing? I am confused. Looks like ESCC and Lewes DC might be able to help out Brighton and Hove CC with its problems. Can this be
  • Score: 17

10:59am Fri 1 Aug 14

getThisCoalitionOut says...

Unbelievable that a site that could have had 40 houses built on it is given over to something like this but then with anything involving ESCC it is to be expected. Useless overpaid morons.
Unbelievable that a site that could have had 40 houses built on it is given over to something like this but then with anything involving ESCC it is to be expected. Useless overpaid morons. getThisCoalitionOut
  • Score: -2

11:32am Fri 1 Aug 14

andrewedmondson says...

I'd love to hear the argument about why a couple of spiritual exercise rooms benefits the community more than new housing. Amazingly the decision was unanimous so the argument must be very strong. Can we get a transcript?
I'd love to hear the argument about why a couple of spiritual exercise rooms benefits the community more than new housing. Amazingly the decision was unanimous so the argument must be very strong. Can we get a transcript? andrewedmondson
  • Score: 17

11:50am Fri 1 Aug 14

mtmoocher says...

So this group, which openly denies membership to people who suffer from mental illness, is the best solution for the community? Beggars belief! What do you have to say in reply ESCC?
So this group, which openly denies membership to people who suffer from mental illness, is the best solution for the community? Beggars belief! What do you have to say in reply ESCC? mtmoocher
  • Score: 13

1:02pm Fri 1 Aug 14

NickBrt says...

Please can we have space for more travellers instead?
Please can we have space for more travellers instead? NickBrt
  • Score: 1

1:59pm Fri 1 Aug 14

Jimmy Stewart's Imaginary Rabbit says...

andrewedmondson wrote:
I'd love to hear the argument about why a couple of spiritual exercise rooms benefits the community more than new housing. Amazingly the decision was unanimous so the argument must be very strong. Can we get a transcript?
Spot on - although I bet you the reason is the councillors couldn't face the inevitable battle with the inevitble protestors who would declare that the site was 'totally unsuitable' for housing. That's what usually happens.
[quote][p][bold]andrewedmondson[/bold] wrote: I'd love to hear the argument about why a couple of spiritual exercise rooms benefits the community more than new housing. Amazingly the decision was unanimous so the argument must be very strong. Can we get a transcript?[/p][/quote]Spot on - although I bet you the reason is the councillors couldn't face the inevitable battle with the inevitble protestors who would declare that the site was 'totally unsuitable' for housing. That's what usually happens. Jimmy Stewart's Imaginary Rabbit
  • Score: 1

2:46pm Fri 1 Aug 14

Binnybanny says...

Bet you're glad its not a Mosque going there instead.
Bet you're glad its not a Mosque going there instead. Binnybanny
  • Score: -1

3:59pm Fri 1 Aug 14

Youlikemyjugs says...

A community cafe...“eco lodge”?!

I won't last the night at this rate.

Build houses for people to live in, not a narcissistic 'community' for a few new-age hippies to drift about in and moan about their chakras!
A community cafe...“eco lodge”?! I won't last the night at this rate. Build houses for people to live in, not a narcissistic 'community' for a few new-age hippies to drift about in and moan about their chakras! Youlikemyjugs
  • Score: 3

8:27pm Fri 1 Aug 14

hoveguyactually says...

Youlikemyjugs wrote:
A community cafe...“eco lodge”?!

I won't last the night at this rate.

Build houses for people to live in, not a narcissistic 'community' for a few new-age hippies to drift about in and moan about their chakras!
You couldn't be further from the truth. This is not the swinging 60s, with hippy communes and love-ins. Subud has nothing whatsoever to do with new-age hippies or discussions about chakras. Also, it is not a religion, but it is open to all religious or non-religious people. At the moment the Centre does serve the community in so far as it is available to various courses and classes that have nothing to do with Subud itself, many of whose members are deeply involved in international and national charities. Regarding mental patients, they are advised not to join, due to the fact that most members have had no experience of dealing professionally with their problems. They are just ordinary people from all walks of life, who cannot spend 24 hours a day looking after them. As with all spiritual organisations, powerful forces can come into play and these can be be very dangerous to those who are mentally vulnerable.
Reading through all the comments, I see that you are all way off the mark, and you might find it useful to do some research and read about about Subud before making some of them. Yes, housing is certainly needed badly everywhere, especially in the south east, but for many people there is also a need for inner peace and purpose in life. That is something they have found in Subud.
[quote][p][bold]Youlikemyjugs[/bold] wrote: A community cafe...“eco lodge”?! I won't last the night at this rate. Build houses for people to live in, not a narcissistic 'community' for a few new-age hippies to drift about in and moan about their chakras![/p][/quote]You couldn't be further from the truth. This is not the swinging 60s, with hippy communes and love-ins. Subud has nothing whatsoever to do with new-age hippies or discussions about chakras. Also, it is not a religion, but it is open to all religious or non-religious people. At the moment the Centre does serve the community in so far as it is available to various courses and classes that have nothing to do with Subud itself, many of whose members are deeply involved in international and national charities. Regarding mental patients, they are advised not to join, due to the fact that most members have had no experience of dealing professionally with their problems. They are just ordinary people from all walks of life, who cannot spend 24 hours a day looking after them. As with all spiritual organisations, powerful forces can come into play and these can be be very dangerous to those who are mentally vulnerable. Reading through all the comments, I see that you are all way off the mark, and you might find it useful to do some research and read about about Subud before making some of them. Yes, housing is certainly needed badly everywhere, especially in the south east, but for many people there is also a need for inner peace and purpose in life. That is something they have found in Subud. hoveguyactually
  • Score: -2

10:44pm Fri 1 Aug 14

andrewedmondson says...

hoveguyactually you say that it is not a religion yet their home page talks about finding your path to God.

I've only briefly looked at it and it seems similar to some of the guru type groups of the recent past, where some magical practice is revealed or given. In this case it is called the latihan.

I've absolutely no objection to people practicing their religion or otherwise. The question is whether there is a greater need from the community for housing compared to a larger building for Subud. They already have a building in Lewes.

This plot is actually inside the town, where housing is the most sensible use. Even a park would be better than using it for a practice that has only 10 000 followers worldwide.

It's just a question of priorities and public money.
hoveguyactually you say that it is not a religion yet their home page talks about finding your path to God. I've only briefly looked at it and it seems similar to some of the guru type groups of the recent past, where some magical practice is revealed or given. In this case it is called the latihan. I've absolutely no objection to people practicing their religion or otherwise. The question is whether there is a greater need from the community for housing compared to a larger building for Subud. They already have a building in Lewes. This plot is actually inside the town, where housing is the most sensible use. Even a park would be better than using it for a practice that has only 10 000 followers worldwide. It's just a question of priorities and public money. andrewedmondson
  • Score: 2

8:02am Sat 2 Aug 14

RK_Brighton says...

It's shocking that they turn away some of the most vulnerable people.

The dark forces that must be at play within the group, isolating some of the most vulnerable people with mental illnesses is so sad.

It really is not appropriate for such a discriminatory and misguided group to be getting such a prime piece of land.
It's shocking that they turn away some of the most vulnerable people. The dark forces that must be at play within the group, isolating some of the most vulnerable people with mental illnesses is so sad. It really is not appropriate for such a discriminatory and misguided group to be getting such a prime piece of land. RK_Brighton
  • Score: 1

11:18pm Tue 5 Aug 14

stefanfreedman says...

The existing Subud Lewes Centre in Station Road has a long history of being a useful resource for many community groups not connected with Subud. Creches, writers classes, dance classes, concerts, and Transition Lewes meetings. Members of Subud also founded the Lewes New school and have shown a genuine interest in enriching the community. I'm optimistic that this larger project will prove to be of benefit.
The existing Subud Lewes Centre in Station Road has a long history of being a useful resource for many community groups not connected with Subud. Creches, writers classes, dance classes, concerts, and Transition Lewes meetings. Members of Subud also founded the Lewes New school and have shown a genuine interest in enriching the community. I'm optimistic that this larger project will prove to be of benefit. stefanfreedman
  • Score: 0

1:01pm Thu 7 Aug 14

hoveguyactually says...

andrewedmondson wrote:
hoveguyactually you say that it is not a religion yet their home page talks about finding your path to God.

I've only briefly looked at it and it seems similar to some of the guru type groups of the recent past, where some magical practice is revealed or given. In this case it is called the latihan.

I've absolutely no objection to people practicing their religion or otherwise. The question is whether there is a greater need from the community for housing compared to a larger building for Subud. They already have a building in Lewes.

This plot is actually inside the town, where housing is the most sensible use. Even a park would be better than using it for a practice that has only 10 000 followers worldwide.

It's just a question of priorities and public money.
Finding your path to God does not necessary mean following any religion. In fact most Subud members continue to practice whatever religion they have been with for years. Some decide to take up another religion, while there are others who do not adhere to any organised religion, but find that Subud provides them with their spiritual needs. There is no dogma, no teaching, just explanations.
The reason for the need for larger premises is that there have been so many people who have joined in recent years that there is not enough space in the present Subud House.
As far as I know the new premises will not come from public funding, but from money raised by members themselves.
[quote][p][bold]andrewedmondson[/bold] wrote: hoveguyactually you say that it is not a religion yet their home page talks about finding your path to God. I've only briefly looked at it and it seems similar to some of the guru type groups of the recent past, where some magical practice is revealed or given. In this case it is called the latihan. I've absolutely no objection to people practicing their religion or otherwise. The question is whether there is a greater need from the community for housing compared to a larger building for Subud. They already have a building in Lewes. This plot is actually inside the town, where housing is the most sensible use. Even a park would be better than using it for a practice that has only 10 000 followers worldwide. It's just a question of priorities and public money.[/p][/quote]Finding your path to God does not necessary mean following any religion. In fact most Subud members continue to practice whatever religion they have been with for years. Some decide to take up another religion, while there are others who do not adhere to any organised religion, but find that Subud provides them with their spiritual needs. There is no dogma, no teaching, just explanations. The reason for the need for larger premises is that there have been so many people who have joined in recent years that there is not enough space in the present Subud House. As far as I know the new premises will not come from public funding, but from money raised by members themselves. hoveguyactually
  • Score: 0

1:12pm Thu 7 Aug 14

hoveguyactually says...

RK_Brighton wrote:
It's shocking that they turn away some of the most vulnerable people.

The dark forces that must be at play within the group, isolating some of the most vulnerable people with mental illnesses is so sad.

It really is not appropriate for such a discriminatory and misguided group to be getting such a prime piece of land.
Spiritual forces can be quite powerful and could be harmful to anyone with mental problems, which is why they are prevented from joining. "Turn away" i not an appropriate description as there are many Subud members throughout the world who care for, or deal with people with mental problems.
I once asked about this and was told that it is not unlike being in the sunshine. A certain amount of it is beneficial, but too much can be dangerous. If a mental patient were to practice on their own, which they might be tempted to do, they could do themselves a lot of harm, especially if there is not someone to be with them for 24 hours a day.
I am no expert on the subject, but I would like to say that I joined Subud many years ago, when I was feeling very depressed and I have never looked back. I have spoken to many others who tell me the same thing.
[quote][p][bold]RK_Brighton[/bold] wrote: It's shocking that they turn away some of the most vulnerable people. The dark forces that must be at play within the group, isolating some of the most vulnerable people with mental illnesses is so sad. It really is not appropriate for such a discriminatory and misguided group to be getting such a prime piece of land.[/p][/quote]Spiritual forces can be quite powerful and could be harmful to anyone with mental problems, which is why they are prevented from joining. "Turn away" i not an appropriate description as there are many Subud members throughout the world who care for, or deal with people with mental problems. I once asked about this and was told that it is not unlike being in the sunshine. A certain amount of it is beneficial, but too much can be dangerous. If a mental patient were to practice on their own, which they might be tempted to do, they could do themselves a lot of harm, especially if there is not someone to be with them for 24 hours a day. I am no expert on the subject, but I would like to say that I joined Subud many years ago, when I was feeling very depressed and I have never looked back. I have spoken to many others who tell me the same thing. hoveguyactually
  • Score: 0

1:15pm Thu 7 Aug 14

hoveguyactually says...

Youlikemyjugs wrote:
A community cafe...“eco lodge”?!

I won't last the night at this rate.

Build houses for people to live in, not a narcissistic 'community' for a few new-age hippies to drift about in and moan about their chakras!
I can't join the argument regarding whether or not the site should be used for housing. Clearly there is a need for the latter all over the southeast. But I do think you need to get your facts right about Subud before putting out false ideas about it.
[quote][p][bold]Youlikemyjugs[/bold] wrote: A community cafe...“eco lodge”?! I won't last the night at this rate. Build houses for people to live in, not a narcissistic 'community' for a few new-age hippies to drift about in and moan about their chakras![/p][/quote]I can't join the argument regarding whether or not the site should be used for housing. Clearly there is a need for the latter all over the southeast. But I do think you need to get your facts right about Subud before putting out false ideas about it. hoveguyactually
  • Score: 0

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