Hundreds sign petition calling for new plan to save Phoenix Estate

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Green District Councillor Joanna Carter has started a petition calling on Lewes District Council to rethink development plans for the Phoenix Estate.

Lewes District Council and development partner Santon are waiting to hear from the South Downs National Park whether they have planning permission for their development proposal for this Lewes business estate.

However, the Santon and Lewes District Council proposals have proved very unpopular with local people and businesses on the estate, a strength of feeling shown in the recent town hall meeting chaired by David Dimbleby, and now in the petition.

Councillor Carter said: “The proposed development from Lewes District Council and Santon is just not good enough. Many towns would give an arm and a leg to get a space with that many creative businesses, start-ups and social enterprises.

“The proposals from LDC and Santon destroy this much-loved corner of town, without even providing the truly affordable housing that Lewes so desperately needs. It’s time for Lewes District Council to look at other options that better suit the needs of the town.”

The petition asks Lewes District Council to look at how they can adapt their plans by taking on board suggestions from Lewes Phoenix Rising, a campaign group and community development company who have an alternative proposal that keeps the businesses and venues combined with building truly affordable housing.

Once the petition has more than 1,500 signatories who live in Lewes District (the wider area including Seaford, Newhaven, Ringmer, Chailey and Ditchling as well as Lewes), LDC will be obliged to hold a debate on the petition at a full Council Meeting. It may be getting too late for some of the businesses. Despite not having planning permission for their proposals, Santon is already terminating the leases on the Estate.

Café des Artistes is home to art and music studios for over 15 artists, and was also a popular venue space which has hosted musical acts from around the world. Their lease has ended this week, on September 30.

Christian Thompson, the leaseholder, said: “Santon promised they would offer alternative accommodation to businesses, but they haven’t been able to find anywhere.

“They’ve only shown us expensive, unsuitable space in a building that was previously condemned. We’ve spent nearly 10 years building up a successful creative business - something we would have thought Lewes District Council would want to support not destroy. We simply don’t know where to go.”

To sign the petition, go to www.change.org/p/lewes-district-council-lewes-district-council-should-rethink-plans-for-the-phoenix-north-street-estate.

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