The transformation of the former Post Office depot and Harveys depot in Lewes into a major arts venue – with a cinema, restaurant and education facilities – has won a top regional planning award.

Depot, operated by Lewes Community Screen, was crowned the overall winner at last night’s RTPI South East Awards for Planning Excellence.

The previously vacant site is in a prominent, sensitive location within Lewes Conservation Area and surrounded by numerous listed buildings which has been sensitively redeveloped to provide a new community cinema with a café/bar, restaurant and film education and training facilities.

The redevelopment – undertaken by Burrell Foley Fischer and the South Downs National Park Authority – also includes new green infrastructure including an orchard, wild flower garden and landscaping.

Sue Percy MRTPI, Chair of the RTPI South East Judges Panel said: “Through good planning practice and early community engagement the development was not only shaped by, but helped build, public support for the project resulting in an amazing community facility that locals and visitors will use, experience and be proud of for many years to come.”

A travel plan, community minibus, public transport discounts and pedestrian maps were also developed to minimise the impact of additional traffic in the area.

Carmen Slijpen, Depot Director, said: “We are truly honoured that Depot’s contribution as an asset to the local community has been recognised by Royal Town Planning Institute judges. These high profile awards aim to demonstrate the positive impact planning can have on our quality of life. Every day, our customers remind us how they value the new cultural space that Depot provides. We are delighted that, in the six months since we opened our doors, Depot has become an inclusive social hub for all sections of the community.”