Guarded welcome for controversial Santon scheme by Friends of Lewes

Artist's impression of Phoenix Quarter in Lewes
Artist's impression of Phoenix Quarter in Lewes

The Friends of Lewes has given a guarded welcome to the controversial plans for transforming the Phoenix Industrial Estate.

They said they believed it would regenerate a run down area of the town, while delivering long term social and economic benefits.

But they said they wanted more affordable homes, more information about tree planting and landscaping and the plans for the performance space.

A spokesman for the Friends of Lewes said: “A response has gone to the National Park Authority saying it supports in principle the plans for the development of this area and approves of the three-phase approach, which incorporates housing, commercial space and flood protection in phase 1.

“Provision for car parking and for relocating businesses appears to have been well-considered.

“FoL believes the proposed zoning of the area, links to the rest of the town, street plans and transport patterns will all bring economic and social benefits to the town as well as enhancing it. The creation of a new health centre and riverside walk are welcomed.”

A response to the scheme by the Friends of Lewes on its website goes into more detail about its views on the plan.

Landowners Santon North Street and Lewes District Council want to build 416 homes, 40 per cent of them affordable, riverside public spaces and walkways and work space to accommodate 475 jobs.

Many of the detailed aspects of design and materials will settled later if planning permission is granted by the South Downs National Park Authority, but the Friends are calling for a liaison group of local parties to advise on these issues.

A spokesperson added: “In commenting on this application, FoL has not closely examined alternatives – should another application to develop this site come forward, it will be equally carefully considered.”

Project director of Santon North Street Clive Wilding said: “We are delighted to see such a constructive response, which sums up very well the benefits for Lewes of our North Street Quarter proposals. The Friends of Lewes have engaged with us all the way through the design process and we look forward to continuing to work with them on the design detail post-planning.”

The Friends said it was not clear how the performance space would be managed and what facilities would be provided.

The Friends of Lewes said while 40 per cent of the homes would be at rent levels defined by national and local planning policies as affordable, the society considered they would be beyond the means of most people who were in need of affordable accommodation. It added there was a need for one and two bedroom homes in Lewes and wanted more of these to be available for affordable housing. The Friends said the district council should include homes at truly social rents and wanted the density of the housing to be increased in phases two and three.