LETTER: Phoenix Rising flies in the face of climate change

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I read Joanna Carter’s letter (November 27) with much concern.

The North Street Quarter (NSQ) artistic enclave built up after 2005, when empty, flood-affected, old industrial buildings were let out cheaply on three-month leases by the previous developer, prior to redevelopment. This arrangement, continued by Santon, is not long-established.

The artistic community should not be in ramshackle, unhealthy, uninsurable sheds which are a fire hazard. The Lewes District Council (LDC)/Santon Plan includes some facilities for this community in the new design, and creates more new jobs than are there now.

The Environment Agency’s (EA) national formula for flood defence grants produced protection for much of Lewes, but not the NSQ area which remains totally unprotected. For many years everyone has known that only a major development scheme will generate enough funding for the NSQ and adjacent areas to be properly flood-protected, and the contaminated land treated.

The alternative, unrealistic but much-vaunted ‘Phoenix Plan’ does not provide flood protection as such, which I understand the EA would insist upon for any new residential development in Flood Zone 3. Phoenix Rising only intend to make some buildings “flood-resilient”.

Crucially, these may not have the requisite safe means of escape, and their plan seems to do nothing to protect nearby housing around the Pells.

The Lewes 2000 floods caused years of misery. We need this quarter of the town properly protected, not just a few “resilient” buildings for a few people.

Phoenix Rising flies in the face of climate change and sustainable development, never mind common sense.

And, contrary to what Jon Gunson says (letter, November 27), the Santon/LDC plan deals fully with drainage of land both on and above the site with a SUDS system.

LDC wishes to maximise the site’s community potential, not just minimise its impact on a few. If you provide flood protection, deal with contaminated land, incorporate attractive public areas, and want to maximise subsidised housing, it is impossible also to subsidise artists’ rent on a partially-redeveloped site.

The South Downs National Park Authority knows it has a duty to those living within it. LDC/Santon plan has huge employment potential, a new surgery, new pedestrian and cycle ways, riverside walks and a river crossing.

Many people are saddened by the derelict NSQ blot on the landscape and want Lewes to take its fair share of desperately needed housing. A vocal minority should not deter the National Park from approving this sustainable development, which is in line with national and local planning policy.

This site meets both the dual purposes and the duty of the National Park. It is the most sustainable large brownfield housing site in the whole Park, and will protect many greenfield sites in the Park and Lewes District from development. It is a fantastic opportunity for Lewes, which I support wholeheartedly.

Councillor Peter Gardiner

Shadow Lead on Planning for LDC