Have your say on Lewes’s destiny

Phoenix industrial estate, Lewes know by some as 'The Phoenix Quarter'
Phoenix industrial estate, Lewes know by some as 'The Phoenix Quarter'

The most important development area in Lewes comes under the spotlight again next week.

The North Street Quarter will be the subject of a ‘your thoughts’ session at Lewes Town Hall on Saturday, September 21.

It’s the second of three public drop-in workshops on the future of this crucial site, earmarked for mixed use development and around 350 homes.

Santon, the landowner/developer, wants to update residents on the latest plans, how it has responded to feedback from the initial consultation in January and what people have had to say about the work so far.

The bulk of the site is the former Phoenix Industrial Estete and the regeneration is seen as a great opportunity to put the area back at the heart of the town.

Previous industrial uses in the North Street Quarter have closed off the riverbank but now there is an opportunity to open up both access and views to the other side of the River Ouse and to the South Downs.

Santon is planning to revive it as a new area of Lewes, one which can make a real contribution to the county town.

It says: “Any development must address the local demand, enhance the sense of place within Lewes and and add its chapter to the historic evolution of Lewes’ housing stock.”

Key issues have been raised in consultation, notably that affordable housing is based on an understanding that this will benefit local people and not people from outside the area.

There seems to be a fairly strong leaning towards independent retailers rather than corporate. This may need further exploration to establish an acceptable balance and to determine what type of chains and retail mix would be preferable.

There is concern about what will happen to the arts/creative and light industrial businesses that are currently operating on the site, and solutions to their future operation will need to de developed.

The scale and height of buildings is important to many people and there seems to be a preference for a mix of styles, which needs to be carefully considered in the design phase.

Transport access issues during the development stage and after its completion are likely to remain high on the agenda of local people, particularly those who live in close proximity to the site.

The workshop, from 10am to 3pm, will ask residents how Santon can embrace the town’s existing character and achieve modern living and working standards. Views are sought on street design, house styles and materials.

The developer says: “Any proposed development must be truly sustainable – environmentally, economically and socially. It has to give people in the town the services, jobs and housing they need.

“It has to be part of Lewes, and in tune with Lewes, nothing from a standard plan.”

Santon hopes to integrate the development into the fabric and character of the town. Rather than carbon-copy designs it has researched the architecture, social make-up and urban landscape so spaces can be designed that always feel like Lewes.

“Whilst respecting the rich heritage of Lewes it will create its own characterinformed by its unique topography, riverside location and contemprary requirements.”