Plans to permanently close and demolish Lewes Bus Station

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Lewes Bus Station is at risk of being demolished, reports Susan Murray

A “pre” planning application has been submitted to the South Downs National Park Authority (SDNPA) to redevelop Lewes Bus Station but contains no apparent replacement bus drop off and waiting area.

Proposals for the site include demolition of existing buildings and construction of a mixed-use, six-storey development...

As some people may be aware there are currently plans to permanently close Lewes Bus Station and convert it in to flats. The plans are proposing that both the bus station and the neighbouring old Southdown bus depot (which seems is now used as a storage shed for some company) will be knocked down and flats will be built where the bus station and old Southdown bus depot currently are.

This will cause massive problems and congestion in Lewes as the only alternative nearby bus stop is the one that is just outside of Waitrose which only has room for one bus to stop there at a time. If more than one bus needs to stop there than they end up blocking the very busy one way road. The whole town of Lewes is full of narrow busy one way roads with very little space for bus stops.

However the town of Lewes is served by six B&H 28/29 an hour (every ten minutes) in each direction so that is twelve B&H 28/29 buses an hour when you include both directions. Plus there are a bunch of Compass Bus services (both local town services and services to surrounding towns and villages) which serve the bus station. At busy times in the peak there can be up to twelve Compass Bus services an hour. So that means there can be up to twentyfour buses an hour that are all forced to use one bus stop that can only fit one bus at a time. It will be chaos.

The second problem is that Compass Bus vehicles lay over at the bus station while the driver has his break there. There are often up to six buses at a time laying over here for periods between trips. With the bus station closing there will be nowhere to lay over in the town centre (which is full of narrow roads) so the only thing i can think of is the drivers will have to drive back to the depot on the outskirts of Lewes to layover. Or they will have to change the timetables so that the drivers will have their break at the opposite end of the routes so in Lewes they can just arrive and drop off and pick up passengers and immediately set off again.

The only alternative stops for buses to use (as there is no way up to twentyfour buses an hour can use the one stop outside Waitrose without causing chaos) are at the top of the steep hill near the old post office at the end of the High Street or at the Phoenix Causeway on the other side of the river. Both of these are much too far from the main town centre where all the shops are to be used as alternatives. Passengers will not want to walk all this way from the town centre. So i really have no idea what will happen.

Lewes Bus Station is a shadow of what it used to be. I remember there used to be a Southdown office there (which then became the Stagecoach office when they took over) and had public toilets and bus staff to help passengers. The bus depot used to be next door which is no longer a bus depot. So all of that is now gone. But there is still a cafe which keeps changing owners.

Originally it was a greasy spoon cafe. Then it changed to a pizza restaurant which was actually very high quality and won lots of awards. Then it changed to a second pizza restaurant which was very cheap and much poorer quality. Now it is back to being a cafe but this time it is a posh expensive cafe.

It will certainly be interesting to see what happens with the bus station. It will be chaos if it goes ahead. From what i have heard they are currently waiting for planning permission and if they get that they will knock it down at some point next year.

There is currently a petition to scrap the plans to build flats and save the bus station so it will be interesting to see if this has any effect.
 
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TheGrandWazoo

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As some people may be aware there are currently plans to permanently close Lewes Bus Station and convert it in to flats. The plans are proposing that both the bus station and the neighbouring old Southdown bus depot (which seems is now used as a storage shed for some company) will be knocked down and flats will be built where the bus station and old Southdown bus depot currently are.

This will cause massive problems and congestion in Lewes as the only alternative nearby bus stop is the one that is just outside of Waitrose which only has room for one bus to stop there at a time. If more than one bus needs to stop there than they end up blocking the very busy one way road. The whole town of Lewes is full of narrow busy one way roads with very little space for bus stops.

However the town of Lewes is served by six B&H 28/29 an hour (every ten minutes) in each direction so that is twelve B&H 28/29 buses an hour when you include both directions. Plus there are a bunch of Compass Bus services (both local town services and services to surrounding towns and villages) which serve the bus station. At busy times in the peak there can be up to twelve Compass Bus services an hour. So that means there can be up to twentyfour buses an hour that are all forced to use one bus stop that can only fit one bus at a time. It will be chaos.

The second problem is that Compass Bus vehicles lay over at the bus station while the driver has his break there. There are often up to six buses at a time laying over here for periods between trips. With the bus station closing there will be nowhere to lay over in the town centre (which is full of narrow roads) so the only thing i can think of is the drivers will have to drive back to the depot on the outskirts of Lewes to layover. Or they will have to change the timetables so that the drivers will have their break at the opposite end of the routes so in Lewes they can just arrive and drop off and pick up passengers and immediately set off again.

The only alternative stops for buses to use (as there is no way up to twentyfour buses an hour can use the one stop outside Waitrose without causing chaos) are at the top of the steep hill near the old post office at the end of the High Street or at the Phoenix Causeway on the other side of the river. Both of these are much too far from the main town centre where all the shops are to be used as alternatives. Passengers will not want to walk all this way from the town centre. So i really have no idea what will happen.

Lewes Bus Station is a shadow of what it used to be. I remember there used to be a Southdown office there (which then became the Stagecoach office when they took over) and had public toilets and bus staff to help passengers. The bus depot used to be next door which is no longer a bus depot. So all of that is now gone. But there is still a cafe which keeps changing owners.

Originally it was a greasy spoon cafe. Then it changed to a pizza restaurant which was actually very high quality and won lots of awards. Then it changed to a second pizza restaurant which was very cheap and much poorer quality. Now it is back to being a cafe but this time it is a posh expensive cafe.

It will certainly be interesting to see what happens with the bus station. It will be chaos if it goes ahead. From what i have heard they are currently waiting for planning permission and if they get that they will knock it down at some point next year.

There is currently a petition to scrap the plans to build flats and save the bus station so it will be interesting to see if this has any effect.
Not a shock - the only surprise is that it’s taken so long. Money talks - it’ll go.
 

Bletchleyite

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Talking of buses laying over, I don't know about the Lewes network specifically, but towns without bus stations typically join two services across town, with the advantage of being able to join/leave at multiple stops. This moves the layover time to the outer ends of the route where it's easier to provide for as it's typically only one bus at a time. Is this feasible for Lewes?
 

RT4038

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Talking of buses laying over, I don't know about the Lewes network specifically, but towns without bus stations typically join two services across town, with the advantage of being able to join/leave at multiple stops. This moves the layover time to the outer ends of the route where it's easier to provide for as it's typically only one bus at a time. Is this feasible for Lewes?
Except that many routes have terminal loops nowadays, often at both ends, which means that layover cannot really be taken there.
 
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Not a shock - the only surprise is that it’s taken so long. Money talks - it’ll go.
Sadly i think you are right. I am sure the plans probably will go ahead. From what i have heard East Sussex County Council are in favour of it going which is not really surprising as they are the ones who pay all of the fees to the owner of the bus station for Brighton & Hove and Compass Bus to use it.

Talking of buses laying over, I don't know about the Lewes network specifically, but towns without bus stations typically join two services across town, with the advantage of being able to join/leave at multiple stops. This moves the layover time to the outer ends of the route where it's easier to provide for as it's typically only one bus at a time. Is this feasible for Lewes?
Indeed that is certainly a possibility. That could easily work in Lewes which would get rid of the problem of having to find somewhere new for the buses to lay over between trips. However even if they join routes together so that there are no longer any bus routes terminating in the town centre there is still the problem of the fact that the one bus stop outside Waitrose which can only fit one vehicle at a time (with any other vehicles blocking the busy one way road) will simply not be enough for up to twentyfour buses an hour to call at during peak times. If all the buses are retimed and spread evenly that is still up to one bus every two and a half minutes during busy times. Plus there is no doubt that there will be busy times when multiple buses turn up all together. So they will have to find a solution to this to avoid blocking the road constantly.

Except that many routes have terminal loops nowadays, often at both ends, which means that layover cannot really be taken there.
That is true. That is certainly an issue with some routes. Although most of the longer distance routes to and from Lewes do not have this issue. But the town routes in Lewes certainly do have this problem as they operate as loops at the ends of these routes.
 

Robertj21a

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Isn't there space for a second stop, to be placed in High Street (bottom of hill), and create another one in (?Little East St ? - the road to the north).
 
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Isn't there space for a second stop, to be placed in High Street (bottom of hill), and create another one in (?Little East St ? - the road to the north).
Yes that is a good point. I suppose if you removed a few of the parking spaces then a second bus stop could be installed at the very bottom of the hill on the High Street near where the Pizza Express and Halifax and Natwest are located. Little East Street is far too busy with traffic for a bus stop there and there is not much pavement space either. However another bus stop could be put in at the bottom of East Street to the side of where the bus station currently is (in fact there used to be a bus stop located right here until about fifteen years ago when they removed it) but again they would have to remove a few parking spaces on the opposite side so vehicles could get past. There is also the existing bus stop on Friars Walk (near the Premier Inn hotel) so perhaps this could be used solely for some town services which would call here instead of the Waitrose stop. So i think a few extra stops could be created but it depends on if the council will agree to remove some parking spaces to put in these new bus stops.
 

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