Improving Lewes for people with access needs

At our recent AGM Jean Lawrence the acting chair of the Lewes Area Access Group told us a bit about their work. She herself works with visually impaired people and helps them to orientate themselves about, through training with white sticks etc. She is passionate about improving the physical urban environment for blind or partially sighted people.

The LAAG meets regularly to raise issues where access could be improved and to work with the authorities to share their experiences to improve the town for everyone. They greatly miss their Access Officer Sue Dunkley, made redundant recently from LDC. They cannot locate any replacement for the vital role she played in advising the council, as well as liaising with the public over disability access matters. She was able to make the links with departments such as highways when problems were identified. Jean has tried contacting the council but is not clear who is being passed any correspondence and if it is being logged anywhere.

Jean reminded everyone that access affects everyone at some point, whether mums with prams, older people (we will all get older eventually and face cognitive as well as physical decline), carers have valuable insights into where problems lie, also those people who may have less visible impairment. The LAAG will work with the LTP and the Sussex Past heritage interpretation project to seek ways of improving information for the public and to help develop the capacity of the group to support itself in the absence of ongoing help from the authorities.

The changes made to Cliffe High Street are a poor example for disabled people, in fact many local visually impaired people will avoid it due to the cars parking on the pavements, the café overspills and the uneven cobbles. There are many issues that the LAAG hope to raise with the developers of North Street around the concept of Shared Space and they will seek to have input at the right time to show how this is not a solution to the blind or partially sighted, more of an additional barrier to independence.

Contact the group via Jean at

Advice and support for your group

Looking for help in running your group? You can drop in on Thursday 9.30 – 1.00pm to Southover House and speak to Lee Shepherd of 3VA. He can help with setting up a new group, identifying potential sources of funding, and recruiting and retaining your volunteers.

Lee can also help if you are looking to do some volunteering as he has knowledge of many of the local groups and organisations who may need help. He can help you think through why you want to volunteer, how much time you can offer, what your skills are that you are offering  and what you are looking to get out of it. Try searching the national volunteering website

Or call Lee on 07535992638

Update on North Street developments

The recent AGM of the town partnership invited Clive Wilding (of Santon the developers of the site) to give an update and provide a timetable of what to expect over next time period as people have wondered what is going on since the planning permsission was granted. Most of the first phase’s buildings by Phoenix Place are getting prepared for demolition. People who were living or working there have now been moved and there are barriers in place. This work is meant to start before Christmas.

During any demolition process there are plans to restrict nuisance for neighbours and dust and noise, on similar lines to that of the Magistrates Court workings. It was requested at the meeting, and followed up with Santon, that any loss of car parking spaces are replaced with similar for the duration to avoid problems for people living and trying to park on nearby residential roads.

Heritage surveys have been undertaken and any industrial or pre-industrial finds will be published. Santon have agreed that any structures that formed part of the old iron works that can be rescued will be passed to the Phoenix Rising group.

Clive Wilding was asked to focus specifically on the issues of affordable housing and the proposed Health Hub. You can download and read the notes from the discussion here ltp-2016-agm-discussion-session

Landport Living History Exhibition


The Landport Living History Exhibition is a community history project. To find out who lived the houses on the estate in 1939 and what they did, the meaning of the street names in Landport etc, etc. Landport Residents’ Association put on a three day exhibition at the end of October at Landport Youth Centre in Lewes.

 The project’s aim was to engage with people who lived and worked on the estate, and gather their memories of Landport past and present. This was done over a period of several months, and then all the memories were collated and put into a folder for people to browse through at the exhibition.

 As well as this, people were asked for their personal photos of life on the estate and articles of interest. Some material came from The Keep, books on local history, and from Newhaven Fort.

 The exhibition was a great success, with lots of people from the estate and the local area of all ages coming along to see it.  The project has had a very positive response overall and some of the things said in the comments book are as follows- 

  •  ‘I found this all very interesting. A lot of hard work has gone into this display, thank you.’
  •  ‘The sense of community is evident, such a variety of people’s accounts.’
  •  ‘As a new resident really enjoyed seeing and reading some of the history of the area. Great exhibition. Well done.’

 If you would like advice on how to do something similar for where you live, be it on a small or large scale, they would be very happy to talk to you about how they went about it. Please email For those that are interested, much of the exhibition content is available online. Please go to

 My thanks to all the people who contributed to this very successful exhibition. In particular they wish to thank Tenant Participation Officer Sue Wells, for her invaluable help, and Landport Residents’ Association committee members Kirsten Bowen and David Pickbourne.

North Street developments: a chance to find out more

nsqClive Wilding of developers Santon will be the guest speaker on Monday 17th October at Pelham House Hotel starting at 8.00pm after the AGM.He has been asked to give us an update on plans and answer questions. He has been asked to focus specifically on the issue of affordable housing and the proposed new Health Centre. However other topics may come up.

Any questions he cannot answer at the time will be noted here and followed up. Responses will be shared back to members later. All members and friends are welcome to attend and join in the debate.

There is a website

Lewes Area Access Group

Are you someone who has difficulty in accessing the built or natural environment in and around Lewes? Are you a Carer for someone who has these challenges? Are you someone who regularly uses a child buggy, and finds it difficult to walk easily along the pavements due to clutter, such as thoughtlessly placed street furniture and A boards?  If so, would you like to join us in our efforts to eliminate or improve these difficulties?

Lewes Area Access Group meets on the second Monday of every other month from 10.30am to 12 noon in the Phoenix Centre Lewes.

Among other things, we have had initial consultations with Santon concerning the development of the North Street Quarter. We expect to continue with these discussions at the design stage.

We have also been working with the Depot cinema to make it access friendly. This includes toilets for disabled people, an accessible cafe, a hearing loop, colour contrast to help partially sighted people, and other recommendations such as audio description facilities.

In the near future we will be working with the museum at Lewes Castle to make it accessible to blind and partially sighted people. We will also be ensuring that the new Post Office, wherever it is located, will be in an accessible venue.

We will continue to advise on access issues for new planning applications brought to Lewes District and East Sussex County Council.

For those of you who experience barriers in the built environment such as obstacles on pavements and badly planned shared footways and cycleways, we need your participation. Cuts to Local Government means there are fewer Officers to oversee such problem areas. Self-help is more than ever, becoming the watchword for ensuring an environment fit for all….. Do come and join us.

You can contact us at Or call 01273 480997 for more details.

The Access Group is working with partners on improving information for the public, whether tourists or locals, on how to get around Lewes.

Lewes Fossil Festival September 2016

During the month of September the Lewes Town Partnership, with a range of partners, is coordinating a month of fossil fun and Gideon Mantell-related events in Lewes. Look out for the Hunt the Bones prize dinosaur hunt around town running throughout the month.

During Heritage Open Days on Saturday 10 Sept there will be a chance to view original Gideon Mantell publications in the Barbican House Museum Library and on Sunday 11 September to visit his birthplace in Station Street.

Mantell’s dinosaurs: Saturday 17 September at Lewes Castle. Drop in to learn about Gideon Mantell and handle real dinosaur bones. Between 1-4pm. All ages welcome. Usual admission applies. No booking required

Saturday 24 September will be a day of family fun dinosaur related activities on the Railway Land next to the Linklater Pavilion. There will also be a series of talks in the Linklater on various themes relating to the finding of the Iguanodon. The day will include book readings by children’s author Nicky Dee ” What’s so Special about Dinosaurs?” There will be original pieces of iguanodon fossil on view in the Linklater from the Booth Museum in Brighton. Admission free.

On the Sunday 25th Sept 12 noon and 2.30pm the Iguanodon Restaurant street theatre showwill be on by the Linklater. It will feature a 35ft Iguanodon and will tell the story of the finding and identifying of the early dinosaurs. The show and “monster” has been created by Emeraldant CIC who will be coming to Lewes from Dorset having already featured at the Yorkshire Fossil Festival in Scarborough and the Lyme Regis Fossil Festival.

If you would like to help out or participate in these events please email

More information:

LTP setting up Lewes Christmas Festival

At the AGM of the Lewes Town Partnership last year members felt that we needed to do much more to make Christmas in Lewes a more festive event. So since the AGM we have been meeting with partners to discuss how we can have a co-ordinated and exciting Christmas in 2016, with the view to launching Lewes as a Living Advent Calendar town in 2017.

We are currently working with Friends of Lewes and the Chambers of Commerce and others to mount a three day Christmas Festival, 1-3 December. We are applying for funding for Christmas lights in the High Street, and we will be having free parking on three Saturdays, late night shopping, a Christmas Trail, a competition for schools organised and sponsored by Friends of Lewes, with prizes awarded by the Mayor in the Town Hall, and many more events. Lewes Football Club have expressed an interest in a match during Christmas, and of course as always Harveys will be playing a major role.

If you would like to be involved in the Lewes Festival project please contact

News from Now! Charity

Based at North Street in Lewes and in Hailsham, Now! Charity, formerly Furniture Now, reports on what they’re up to.

‘There is a lot happening at Now! Charity Group and we are busy, busy, busy bees!  These are exciting times for us as our new Training Centre begins to buzz and our events calendar starts to hum. Please see below for details of them all and put some dates in your diaries! Also visit our website for further updates

Training Courses from September at Training Now! our new Training Centre in Station Road, Hailsham. 
Street Learning Workshops and Courses:

  • Improve your Reading and Writing
  • Improve your Maths
  • How To Use Computers (all levels)
  • Get Outside and Garden
  • Overcoming Fears and Gaining Confidence
  • What is Volunteering?
  • Find out about Mental Health
  • Easy Cooking – Eat Well on a Budget
  • Furniture Painting
  • Preparing for Work – an NCFE Formal Qualification.

These are all free and available to anyone above the age of 19 years. Contact 01323 887199 or email for more details or to book a place.

Fundraising events coming up in 2016
All at Buxted Park Hotel – contact 0845 072 7412 for tickets and more details

  • 10 July: Cocktails and Comedy
  • 21 August: Afternoon Tea and Jazz
  • 25 September: The Beachy Boys
  • 20 November: Michael Buble Tribute Night

How the Lewes Fund works for Lewes

Richard Pearson describes the work of the Lewes Fund and how LTP members can benefit

While many parts of Lewes and the neighbouring villages are prospering, there are areas of significant deprivation and individuals in need. Requests for help via the Citizens Advice Bureau from those in need are at record levels. We are fortunate that there are over 100 local community groups and charities who, along with their volunteers, help meet these local needs.

The Lewes Fund was established in 2012 to help facilitate charitable giving and to act as a fund raiser for these local groups. The Fund draws on the knowledge and support of the local community, working together to help reduce disadvantage and build a stronger, sustainable community for the future.

The generosity of over 50 local contributors has already enabled us to give out over £25,000 in grants to 20 local community groups, and invest £150,000 in our Endowment Fund which is managed by Sussex Community Foundation. The income from this fund will enable grants to be made in future years.

The next grant round opens on 15 July and we welcome applications from local community groups and charities. Applications for grants, preferably up to the value of £1,000 should be made via our The application window is open until mid September.

For more information please email Richard Pearson