Letter: Entirely wrong

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Rita Ellis claims to represent the “silent majority” in supporting the Santon / LDC plans for the North Street and Phoenix Estate, and that I stood for election solely to support Lewes Phoenix Rising.

These two statements are entirely wrong. The Santon / LDC plans for North Street and the Phoenix Estate are rightly unpopular across the town.

This is shown by the number of signatures on the petition I started (3,400 and rising), and the number of signed-up supporters to the positive alternative vision provided by Lewes Phoenix Rising. When out canvassing before the election, I talked to hundreds of people throughout the town – and found that a vocal majority were deeply concerned about the Santon / LDC plans. This is an issue that people in Lewes care about, and rightly so.

Whether you are a young person who wants places to go in town, such as the Dance Academy, Starfish, and the Skatehouse, or you appreciate the social enterprises, such as the Community Chef and Furniture now, or you want to have the convenience of practical businesses, such as North Street Garage, the Hand Car Wash and Compass Buses, if you are a business owner looking for affordable work space or if you are struggling to get on the housing ladder (whether for rent or buying) – people in Lewes are right to be worried that Santon /LDC plans will not deliver for them.

Who would want to support a scheme that will destroy a burgeoning hub of businesses, a sterling creative cluster, much-loved community spaces and social enterprises, while not providing the truly affordable homes that Lewes needs?

I have heard fears that if the Santon / LDC plan doesn’t go ahead, this corner of town will remain underdeveloped. However, this is the great thing about having Lewes Phoenix Rising: in this case we have got a positive, well-thought out alternative. Lewes Phoenix Rising doesn’t say no to development – they say “yes, but let’s do it better”.

Their plans include a river walk, a bridge, the required car parking, provide housing at affordable and social rents (with more housing than the Santon/LDC plans) PLUS keep substantial affordable space for businesses and community uses.

Why as a councillor would I not support a plan that would provide so much for Lewes, and object to a plan that has so many flaws?

It is misrepresenting me to say I stood solely to support Lewes Phoenix Rising. I will work hard as a councillor for the next four years to represent people in my ward and throughout the District on different issues. I am already representing residents on other campaigns. I stood as someone who has grown up in Lewes, a long-term resident who cares about the future of my town.

The plans for North Street & the Phoenix Estate are the biggest development we will see in Lewes, in fact probably the biggest in the whole South Downs National Park. This is a unique opportunity to get the right development in the heart of our town.

Along with my fellow Greens, we all stood on an election platform for community-led development, such as that proposed by Lewes Phoenix Rising; the fact that three Green District Councillors were elected (a first for this District) and that the Town Council is now 50 per cenr Green, shows the high level of support for our stance. I would not be doing my job as an elected councillor if I did not fight to get a better development for Lewes, one that keeps space in our town for business, the creative and social enterprises, and provides the truly affordable housing, community and work space that our town needs.

Joanna Carter

Lewes District Councillor (Bridge Ward)