Council backs Santon North Street Quarter

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The North Street Quarter is the best scheme for the town, Lewes District Council (LDC) says.

LDC published its response to a petition calling on a development re-think over plans for the Phoenix-North Street Estate. It will be debated at full council on December 9.

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The report recommends working towards the joint LDC/Santon North Street scheme arguing it will offer affordable housing, create jobs, provide vital flood defences and make the area accessible to all with new public spaces and riverside walkways. Plans were developed over three years and enhanced through formal consultation.

A council spokesman says moving away from that scheme to start an alternative will delay providing much-needed homes and leave businesses at risk of flooding.

Petitioners asked LDC to work more closely with Lewes Phoenix Rising (LPR), who propose an alternative plan despite having no landholdings. The spokesman pointed out: “The LPR plan is based on keeping poor quality commercial building stock for existing tenants. Keeping low density buildings means that to meet local plan policy, 400 homes would have to be built on the remaining site. This, combined with no flood defences and requiring ‘flood resilient’ uses at ground floor level, means six to seven storey homes next to the Pells area. This is similar to the previous 650 homes proposals considered unacceptable. The development needs to use the whole 15 acres effectively to comply with reasonable landscape and height restriction. Therefore LDC and Santon will not consider relinquishing a proportion of the site to LPR.”

He added: “The LDC/Santon proposal opens up this part of the town and completes flood defences which we would be unable to do if the Phoenix Iron Works were to be retained. Any alternative scheme keeping existing sheds would be impossible to flood defend so firms could not invest in or insure premises making it impossible to find development finance. The Environment Agency, responding to the planning application, has been clear that development should only be given the go ahead with full flood defences.”

LDC Leader, Cllr Andy Smith explained: “Existing proposals offer the best chance for this key site to be redeveloped to a high quality design to benefit of all. The community benefits, including completing the town’s flood defences and affordable homes, will be delivered in phase one to ensure they come first. Forty per cent of new homes will be affordable with rents kept low and 15 per cent available to local first-time buyers as a priority.” The scheme also includes 140,000 of flexible workspace accommodating 475 full-time jobs, a health hub serving 26,000 people, two GPs’ surgeries, a dentist and pharmacy.

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