A campaign group has this week raised concerns over the forthcoming development of the North Street Quarter in Lewes.
Lewes Phoenix Rising has asked why the development is so far behind schedule.
It said: “It’s been just over two years since the South Downs National Park Authority gave unanimous approval to Phase 1 of plans by landowners North Street Quarter Limited and Lewes District Council to redevelop the North Street/ Phoenix Industrial Estate area.
“Lewes Phoenix Rising campaigned to persuade both landowners to deliver genuinely affordable housing and keep some low-cost workspace for some of the brilliant businesses and community enterprises that had developed on the site over the past 15 years.
“We were unsuccessful in this fight. But given there have since been very few visible signs of progress, many of our supporters have been asking questions about what is happening on the site.”
The group has also asked if the landowner is really committed to the scheme. Lewes Phoenix Rising said the ultimate owner of North Street Quarter Ltd’s 65 per cent share of the site is MAS Real Estate Inc [MAS REI], a property investment fund incorporated in the British Virgin Islands.
Lewes District Council has responded with a joint statement with MAS REI. It said: “North Street Quarter is moving forward with great momentum.
“Last week the Government recognised the North Street Quarter development as one of the most significant in the UK for the creation of much needed new homes.
“The £10 million grant from the Government’s Housing Infrastructure Fund will be used to finance flood defences and riverfront works, land remediation, new highways and landscaping all of which need to be done in the first phase of the scheme. The scheme was previously approved by the South Downs National Park Authority and a large team of experts is currently discharging all the pre-commencement planning conditions.
“Construction on the brownfield site will take place over three phases with the aim to be completed in 2021.
“This once in a generation opportunity will see the construction of 416 new homes, a health hub for 26,000 patients, cafés and gallery space, 140,000 sq ft of business space, a riverside promenade and underground public car park. Forty per cent of the homes built will be affordable.
“We are currently speaking to potential partners to deliver the scheme, with the appointed developer starting on-site at the end of 2018.
“The latest progress update on North Street Quarter includes the on-schedule relocation of John Gosnell and Co to their new state-of-the-art premises on Malling Brooks Industrial Estate. Previously, tenants such as The Skatehouse were relocated to a new purpose-built venue in Newhaven and a £200k skatepark was opened on the neighbouring Malling Fields.
“Regular meetings are also taking place with SDNPA, East Sussex County Council, the Environment Agency, Southern Water and Natural England. Local stakeholders are receiving information updates with meetings being held with the NSQ Sounding Board, Landscape and Play Working Group and Design Working Group, with attendees represented including Lewes Town Council, Friends of Lewes, Lewes Town Partnership, Pells and St John’s Neighbourhood Association and the Lewes Conservation Area Advisory Group.”