Lewes Forum thread

Go on, tell 'em what you think

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Tunbridge Wells have covered up.....

On 4 Feb 2013 at 3:52pm Dan wrote:
their insightly empty shops with jolly pictures that look like clean shops - it make a whole difference to visiting the town - Perhaps our lazy councillors and jobswoth staff could get off their rounded bottoms and start to make this town look a bit better?. Its amzaing how little the the council do when they are actually there to support and encourage the town. Lets get rid of the free drinks beanos and staff parties and see the councillors do some actual hard work on behalf of their town for a change?
On 4 Feb 2013 at 6:57pm Cllr Ashley Price wrote:
You may not be aware of the work that Cllr Petrina Kingham and I have been putting into this matter, which has been reported a number of times in the Sussex Express.
We have met with different community groups and organisations within the town who would love to have displays in the windows of the empty shops. We have also met with Dan Thompson who wrote "Pop up Shops for Dummies" and travels all over the UK advising on the use of empty shops.
Cllr Kingham and I, however, have run into a brick wall, in that the agents, administrators and landlords appear to prefer to have the shops standing empty and, in the case of Clinton Cards, boarded up. I was even told when I contacted one estate agent that people like me were the bane of his life and he didn't want a premises he was selling, "cluttered up with non-retail stuff".
If you have any ideas for how we could get the owners, agents and administrators to allow us access to their shops so that we may have displays, like those in other towns, we would be happy to meet with you to discuss the matter. If you would like to contact me through my blog, I have put a link below to it, which also highlights the articles I have posted regarding the empty shops in the town.
Cllr Kingham and I have also now become the elected representatives to further investigate this matter and are going to be officially writing on behalf of the Town Council to those who, so far, have seemed unwilling to allow us use of the shops.
We will keep everyone up to date.

Check it out here »
On 4 Feb 2013 at 7:31pm Sussex Jim wrote:
All power to you, Councillor Price. Is there not any legislation to empower property owners to keep these shops looking smart? After all, some Lewes residents have been reprimanded for repainting their front doors different colours!
On 4 Feb 2013 at 7:42pm insomniac wrote:
How has it come to pass that an estate agent, and his profit, trumps a councillor's attempt to smarten the town up?
On 4 Feb 2013 at 7:48pm Cllr Ashley Price wrote:
The colour issue has to do with Lewes being in a conservation area, which does have some strict rules. I am not sure about a shop being left empty. The difficulty often is finding out who the owners are. We (and other organisations) have found this very hard, because most shops are owned by individuals or companies who are based away from Lewes.
I believe Clinton Cards was boarded up by the council after someone had tried to break in and the burglar alarm was left ringing for over three days(!) Despite the number for their head office being on the door, Cllr Kingham was the first to report it to Clinton Cards, when she she heard it ringing. Shortly after they were also served with a noise abatement order.
On 4 Feb 2013 at 7:54pm Cllr Ashley Price wrote:
@insomianc - I guess because usually the estate agent is managing the property for the owner. I wonder, if by leaving the property standing empty, the owner can put it down as a tax loss.
However, now Cllr Kingham and I have "official representative" status, it should give us a bit more clout rather than just as "individuals" doing things on our own.
We have so many local organisations with some fantastic ideas for the use of the empty shops, we just need get one owner on board and I think others will follow. It has been shown in other areas that an empty shop having a temporary use often sells quicker than one that is left standing vacant.
On 4 Feb 2013 at 9:33pm Spartacus wrote:
Is that an apology I hear Dan?
On 4 Feb 2013 at 10:09pm Insomniac wrote:
I don't think Dan has any apologising to do. Local government in England is absolutely riddled with corruption, cronyism, incompetence and cover-ups. Councillors have no right, and I doubt they have much expectation, to be considered trustworthy.
I'm not suggesting Ashley Price is corrupt or self serving for a moment, but I'm sure he respects and understands Dan's default assumption. I bet he takes it himself when dealing with other councillors, I would if I were him.
On 4 Feb 2013 at 10:49pm the old mayor wrote:
Maybe not charging rates on an empty commercial property would motivate owners to 'dolly' up empty shops. And as mentioned it is often the insurance companies dictating the boarding up, to deter squatters, burglars, arsonists, petty criminals et al that that roam our land. Oh and personally I wouldn't get het up about 3 shops, try and get out more and see what's happening else where !!
On 4 Feb 2013 at 11:01pm Southover Queen wrote:
I may be wrong, but I don't think the local council has any say in business rates; they merely act as the tax collector for central government. And anyway, even if the council did have a choice in the matter it would be LDC not the town council, wouldn't it?
On 5 Feb 2013 at 12:16am the old mayor wrote:
So many Councils and Government departments to choose from - something wrong in that anyway !! Are shops closing across Europe too ? I know Spain is pretty desolate, suppose Greece must be to. Are they painting pretty pictures all over the taverna windows there ?? Doesn't really sort the problem in actual fact does it ! So many things inherently wrong in fact. Rules and Regulation where ever one looks these days. No incentive to open a shop/business or employ staff.
On 5 Feb 2013 at 12:42am Article 4 wrote:
Dear Councillor Price. Thank you for taking an interest, though I think you might be referring to the concept, not the reality of planning applications in Lewes. Could you provide us with some examples of Article 4 Directives being applied for with regard to the issues you have mentioned? Eg door colours, and other Article 4 Conservation issues.I cannot find any on the LDC website. Thank you.
On 5 Feb 2013 at 9:12am Cllr Ashley Price wrote:
@Article 4. I can remember some years ago, at least one instance when a shop in the high street was made to change the colour of its painted woodwork because it was not consistent with the conservation area. If I remember correctly (and it was long before I was even a Cllr) they had gone ahead and made the changes without applying for planning permission.
If there are any problems with an application, they usually picked up by the planning committees - either at Town or District level. Of course, if someone goes ahead and makes inappropriate changes to colour without applying for planning permission then Planning only normally knows about it when it's reported.
If you are aware of someone that has made changes to their property that does not meet with Article 4, then you would do well to report it to LDC.
On 5 Feb 2013 at 9:29am Article 4 wrote:
Thank you. Given the number of properties in the Conservation Area,wouldn't you think that there is a bulging file of Article 4 Direction Applications somewhere? I would appreciate your telling me where this is because I have never seen it, and your own struggle to recall an example may perhaps make you concerned too. Is it just meaningless bit of legislation that LDC prefers to ignore?
On 5 Feb 2013 at 9:42am Cllr Ashley Price wrote:
@Article4 - For more information you would be better contacting LDC direct. I am only a Town Councillor, so do not have immediate access to the information.
If you have any further queries you should contact the planning department at planning@lewes.gov.uk - or call: 01273 484420 and I am sure they will be willing to help you in this matter.
On 5 Feb 2013 at 10:27am Southover Queen wrote:
Is this not to do with high status listed buildings rather than just any within a conservation area? For instance I know that if you wish to paint your front door in the Royal Crescent in Bath a different colour you must apply for listed building consent/planning permission (and you're unlikely to get permission to paint it anything except black or white, from the evidence). I'd wager that it's to do with the explicit attributes of the listing and what is considered to be harmonious when there is a linked group in particular.
On 5 Feb 2013 at 11:09am Lewes lady wrote:
No. Any property in the Lewes conservation areas is subject to the article 4 direction. So any outside new light-fitting, change of paint colours, finishes, materials, etc needs to be approved by LDC. Many of these can be done by informal exchange of letters, rather than by formal application.
This doesn't stop the same authority changing and downgrading street furniture finishes etc when it suits them, but it's always that way with local authorities; they love to boss other people around and in effect spend their money for them.
On 5 Feb 2013 at 11:34am Cllr Ashley Price wrote:
@Southover Queen:
From the LDC website:
All residential properties within the Conservation Area need planning permission for works that face a highway, river, watercourse or open space where the work proposed is included on the following list
* Any alteration to a roof, including dormers, roof coverings, roof lights and solar panels
* Building a porch
* Erecting sheds and temporary buildings
* Building a swimming pool
* Building a hard standing
* Installing a satellite dish or antenna
* Removing, building or altering chimneys
* Removing, or building walls, gates, fences or other means of enclosure
* Exterior painting of previously unpainted surfaces or changes of external colour schemes
*Any enlargement or improvement or alteration such as an extension or conservatory
* Any change to doors or windows, including changed materials, details and designs and types of decorative finish.
You can see more at the following link:

Check it out here »
On 5 Feb 2013 at 12:28pm Southover Queen wrote:
Blimey. Well I await arraignment for painting my front door Farrow and Ball Railing instead of Marston's Roman Bronze.
On 5 Feb 2013 at 1:27pm Cllr Ashley Price wrote:
I will bring it up at the next Town Planning Committee, Southover Queen!
On 5 Feb 2013 at 2:02pm Penguin wrote:
So, you can't paint your own front door, but you can install ugly parking ticket machines and paint lines all over the road within the conservation area?
On 5 Feb 2013 at 2:13pm tobnac wrote:
No, penguin. An Article 4 means you need to apply for planning permission for things that would not ordinarily require consent. It doesn't mean you can't paint your front door, just that you should apply for planning permission before you do so. That is also why there is no 'big file of article 4 applications' as per above. They are just planning applications. It would be very unusual for a local authority to refuse permission for a change of colour scheme (though I imagine that is what happened in the case of that strange lilac coloured building in St John's Terrace a few years ago)
On 5 Feb 2013 at 2:16pm Lewes lady wrote:
Pretty much my point, Penguin.
Friends in town had to repaint their entire house front because someone complained about the new colour (although admittedly it was quite striking). They like the power of having people grovelling to them for permission for every tiny little thing.
On 5 Feb 2013 at 2:33pm Dave wrote:
I think its highly unlikely that LDC has records of what colour your front door is so I guess as long as it doesn't upset the neighbours its unlikely they will find out.
I've painted mine several different colours without once seeking permission. Living on the edge, surfing the wave of freedom!
On 5 Feb 2013 at 3:11pm Trevor wrote:
Cllr Price, have you thought to ask the local council in Tunbridge Wells how they got the property owners on board?
On 5 Feb 2013 at 3:21pm Cllr Ashley Price wrote:
@Trevor... Not Tunbridge Wells, but we did have a meeting with Cllr Steve Mcauliffe who helped to get artwork into empty shops in Hailsham, which worked really well.
The additional problem is that Clinton Cards and Julian Graves are in administration, so there may not be able to get anything done until those have been sorted out.
We are going to be sending "official" letters out in the next few days to all those involved/responsible for the shops. As it will be on LTC letterhead paper, hopefully it will carry more weight than just Cllr Kingham and I sending emails/letters from ourselves.
On 5 Feb 2013 at 3:29pm Local wrote:
LTC letterhead might make a difference, but I can hardly see them quaking in their boots at a letter from the third tier of Lewes local government. Look at it from their perspective.
Personally I think it IS worth diverting some funds to keep the Square looking OK - this is in the same boat as grafitti removal IMHO, and that's important.
On 5 Feb 2013 at 3:29pm Ed Can Do wrote:
I was rather amused when some, young freedom fighter daubed slogans all over the front of boarded-up Clintons, on one hand demanding an end to govenment spending cuts then on the facing board, advocating anarchy as a way to the future. The irony of demanding both greater government support and a complete removal of government at the same time did make me chuckle.

There really are some very stupid people out there.
On 5 Feb 2013 at 3:31pm Penguin wrote:
Thanks Tobnac, so does that mean that planning permission had to be obtained for the parking paraphernalia, and if so, was anyone given the opportunity to object to it? I don't recall that happening
On 5 Feb 2013 at 3:39pm Know All wrote:
Planning permission is not needed for parking paraphanalia, ESCC highways can put it where they want as they are a statutory undertaker.
On 5 Feb 2013 at 3:40pm Cllr Ashley Price wrote:
@Local - If our LTC letter doesn't work, ESCC will probably be our next port of call.
Will keep you up to date.
On 5 Feb 2013 at 3:45pm Ed Can Do wrote:
They stuck a parking sign on the front wall of my parents' old house and didn't even ask their permission for that. ESCC doesn't really care for the concerns and rights of us plebs.
On 5 Feb 2013 at 4:21pm bastian wrote:
I think you will find that the business rates are about to be paid not to central government but to local government in the next year. Will this influence the town in any way..LDC seem very smitten with the idea that Lewes needs a John Lewis store..lots of ground space to charge rates on there. Tonbridge Wells has a John Lewis anyway, why build another one, people will stop going to Tonbrige wells and they will callapse.
The real problem is greedy landlords wanting £75k per annum for the Cliffe shops( before business rates) and that is why they are empty.
On 5 Feb 2013 at 4:28pm Horseman7 wrote:
Dave - I hope you didn't paint your door several different colours all at once. That would be more than living on the edge; more plunging into the abyss. Which reminds me, I need to paint mine. I'll go for white as a change from white.
Ashley - I think you're being remarkably calm, resilient and tenancious here.
On 5 Feb 2013 at 10:25pm the old mayor wrote:
Too many JOBSWORTHS !!
On 6 Feb 2013 at 2:30pm Penguin wrote:
Thanks for the explanation Know All. Makes a bit of a mockery of the conservation area really doesn't it!
On 6 Feb 2013 at 5:00pm Sussex Jim wrote:
Some years ago the electricity people stuck yellow signs on all their poles, stating "do not climb-danger of death". The bleeding obvious.
Driving out to Ringmer, the previously unnoticed pylons became starkly visible with a yellow sign on each corner. Shortly after, they were put on poles along my road. The one by my house was removed the next day, and has not been replaced...

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Ann of Cleves

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