Chamber President, Clare Crouch, and Secretary, Ashley Price met with the Generator Group (the current owners of the bus station site), last Wednesday (6th October) to hear their plans for the development of the site, and how this would affect bus services.
Generator Group purchased the site in April this year, with a view to redeveloping it for homes and commercial space. Currently, East Sussex County Council (ESCC) have a licence to drop off and pick up passengers within the area of the site (although they hold buses on the site for extended periods of time, this is not actually within the terms of their licence). The licence can be terminated by either side, giving seventy days’ notice.
While the site does include a building known by many as a “bus station” it hasn’t actually functioned as one for a long period of time. The site is, to all intents and purposes, three bus stops.
Despite Generator Group being keen to redevelop the site, they decided not to immediately seek for vacant possession and give notice of termination of the licence when they bought the site. Instead they have been seeking to engage with stakeholders (including ESCC, Lewes District and Town Councils, and the bus companies), to explore an alternative site for bus stops, that would adequately service passengers in a similar way to what happens currently.
A number of sites with potential to deliver short term and long term solutions to replace the bus stops have been identified, and Generator Group are working with the relevant stakeholders to move forward with transferring the service currently being provided on the site, to the new location.
The Chamber does realise this is a difficult situation for all concerned. The site has been in private ownership for nearly twenty years, after Southdown Motor Services sold it in 2006. It has only been by the agreement of the owners that buses have still been allowed to pick up and drop off on this site.
We feel that Generator Group has done a lot towards trying to work with relevant stakeholders on seeking an alternative site to provide bus services similar to what is provided on the current site. It would have been entirely within their right to have given seventy days’ notice to terminate the licence upon purchase. Instead, they have been subsidising the continued use by the bus companies. We understand though, that they will not continue this indefinitely.
The Chamber will continue to work with Generator Group, and the various stakeholders to ensure a suitable and safe alternative is found.
HAVE YOUR SAY – PUBLIC CONSULTATION
Generator Group are keen to hear your thoughts on their development of the site, and have a public consultation on 20th October, 12pm to 8pm, in the former warehouse/garages on the bus station site. The Consultation will include the sites of the alternative locations for bus services.