Want to help transform Lewes High Street?
Cycle Lewes and Lewes Living Streets are working to create a plan to redesign Lewes High Street for people rather than cars – and now they need your help, says Sheila O’Sullivan of Cycle Lewes.
Do you think Lewes High Street is blighted by noisy, polluting dangerous traffic travelling too fast? Are you put off walking here? Do you struggle to cross the road? Does cycling around the one-way system to Little East Street fill you with fear?
If the answer to any of these questions is ‘Yes’, we’re inviting you to help us redesign the High Street (from the ‘bottleneck’, where Western Road becomes the High Street, down to the pedestrian precinct) for people not cars.
Let’s deter through-traffic and provide more space for people to sit, linger over a coffee and enjoy the shops and cycle safely. It could look like the picture shown here. Forty years ago, the opening of the A27 by-pass and the Cuilfail tunnel (after a hard-won community led battle against a major road through Lewes), virtually eliminated through-traffic from Lewes High Street. But after 20 years the motor traffic was back!
Attempts to manage traffic using 20mph speed limits for most of the town have only been partially successful. Intrusive motor traffic, narrow pavements and a hill with few places to sit, make the High Street less attractive to pedestrians and cyclists whether they are residents, visitors, shoppers or tourists. As a result, some of the shops here are struggling.
Do we accept the increasing dominance of the motor vehicle? Or can we, as has been demonstrated in other towns, recreate a successful High Street by deterring through-traffic and by giving priority to walkers and cyclists, whatever their age? We believe that measures such as pavement build-outs, creating places to meet and sit, attractive planting, cycle parking, and cycle lanes will bring people back and re-establish the High Street as a social centre within the town. The challenge is to design this whilst maintaining vehicle deliveries and pickups and vehicle access for disabled people. The Precinct and Cliffe High Street show what can be done.
The Government has made funding available to boost walking and cycling and rejuvenate high streets. But Lewes has already lost out because we don’t have an agreed solution. So we need to be ready with an agreed design to secure money when it next becomes available and make that design a reality. To do this, Lewes Living Streets and Cycle Lewes have launched a joint ‘Low Traffic Lewes’ project working with a range of Lewes organisations, residents and local councillors.
• Complete our survey on shopping and improving the High Street
• If you can, make a financial contribution to help fund the design work needed to create a largely traffic free High Street
• Get involved and help us – sign up for Low Traffic Lewes updates