Council reiterates St Mary’s promise

St Mary's social centre faces demolition. ENGSUS00120120919134828
St Mary's social centre faces demolition. ENGSUS00120120919134828

Lewes District Council has reissued its public promise it will not progress on development proposals for the St Mary’s Centre without the support of the centre’s trustees.

The pledge was initially made at a meeting in front of St Mary’s Centre Trustees and Supporters Club Committee members in July 2015.

The meeting was part of a public consultation currently underway on proposals to build around 415 homes across the district, at least 40 per cent of which will be affordable, to address the area’s housing crisis. This includes a proposal to build a new, enhanced community centre on the St Mary’s Centre site in Christie Road along with twelve mews homes.

Now, the council is reiterating the assurance about the centre to make its position clear. Councillor Rob Blackman, Leader of Lewes District Council, said: “St Mary’s Centre is an important community resource used by hundreds of local people and various groups. This is a well-used and popular facility and we are listening to people’s views about our proposal for it. We promise that we will not move forward with the proposal without the trustee’s support.”

Lewes District Council has joined forces with Brighton-based Karis Developments, which has brought together a consortium including Southern Housing Group, one of southern England’s largest housing associations, and internationally-renowned architects Conran and Partners.

There is a real shortage of homes in Lewes district, with local house prices often unaffordable to residents on an average income and nearly 2,000 households on the council housing waiting list.

Cllr Blackman added: “Building new homes including council homes is vital to address this severe shortage. Innovative design and sustainability are at the heart of plans, which will also create new premises for local businesses and provide exciting opportunities for regeneration.

“St Mary’s Social Centre is not threatened as we have committed to replace the community centre subject to the trustees agreement. If the trustees do not wish to go ahead, we will walk away.”

After the site list was officially announced in May of this year, a joint statement from the Trustees and supporters said: “Lewes District Council have categorically stated the site is not for sale and this leaves us no choice but to meet and discuss the options of a new community centre. The developers and architects are planning to meet with us to design a new and enhanced community centre on the site, as well as seeking planning permission for a number of homes.”

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