Lewes Town Council, with support from local residents, has challenged a decision from the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS) not to protect the Bus Station.
After receiving notice that the Secretary of State for the DCMS, Nadine Dorries, would be recommending that the Lewes Bus Station and Garage should not be added to the List of Buildings of Special Architectural or Historic Interest and that a Certificate of Immunity from Listing (COI) should be issued for the buildings, Lewes Town Council rallied residents of the town to help challenge a decision which it felt has been restricted to architecture alone.
The council felt the DCMS should consider the heritage, the culture, the future, the environment and travel and equality of access. It called on residents to share memories of the bus station to sit alongside its challenges to the DCMS’ overlooking of the bus station’s architectural importance.
In a strongly-worded reply to the DCMS, Lewes Town Council said that it “strongly disapproves of the decision and calls again for the Lewes bus station to be listed on account of its national heritage significance.”
“Lewes Bus Station is the last standing example of an important transport interchange and rendezvous, the type of which was of prime importance in the development of post war England. From this point of view, and to understand post war development and thinking in England, its importance must not be denied.
“For generations, the to and fro of local transport in and around Lewes has been fixed on the local bus station. There is important heritage represented by the bricks and mortar and the location of the bus station.
“Lewes is not just a ‘historic’ town because of the castle or the priory; it’s a historic town because the people of Lewes cherish their history. Preserving the bus station, the building, the purpose, and the memories is a unique opportunity that connects a great, culturally significant building from the past, with a forward-thinking, environmentally minded future. To this end residents have contacted the Town Council with their living memories and memories being created every day through this historic environment.”
Some of the experiences shared include the story of a young local resident, one of the artists featured on ‘Grayson Perry’s Art Club’ whose painting and interview about the Bus Station were seen on national TV. This young person gave a heart-warming explanation of what the Bus Station meant to him and his friends, hence his artistic drawing, demonstrating community, friendship, and positive engagement of young people through our historic environment.
Another touching memory sent in described the bus station as a refuge: “My elderly neighbours remember well the convenience of coming and going from the well-designed station, rather than standing in the rain, blocking pavements at bus stops, as well as the upstairs café: Bob would meet his girlfriend — who lived ‘outside’ of Lewes – off the bus and then treat her to tea and cake, or lunch at the upstairs cafe (‘cafe’ without the accented ‘é’). These living memories matter.”