Human Nature is planning a new neighbourhood on the former Phoenix Industrial Estate in Lewes and the development company now has proposals for a new feature which will include riverside seating, a boardwalk and pedestrian bridge, and access point for kayaks and other small craft.
Jonathan Smales, founder and CEO of Human Nature, said: “It’s sometimes said that Lewes was built with its back to the Ouse.
"With this new neighbourhood, we have an opportunity to readdress that, not only with a beautiful new walk but by creating somewhere to sit, eat and look out on the river – the only place in Lewes that can be done.”
The riverwalk will run the full length of the Phoenix – featuring a boardwalk surrounded by rain gardens and riverine habitats to a raised Belvedere (Italian for ‘beautiful view’) in the centre.
In the north, the walk will connect to Wiley’s Bridge and the footpath that runs along the waterway to Offham and Hamsey.
In the south, it will meet the new Foreshore Park – a landscaped park for walking, skating and cycling, with seating and kiosk.
Human Nature’s plans for the Phoenix site will be submitted as an outline planning application to the South Downs National Park Authority in late September.
Jonathan Smales said: “We would love to see the Phoenix river walk join up with a new path under the Phoenix Causeway bridge, along the river by Wenban Smith and connect to the precinct and Cliffe High Street.
“The Phoenix site is a hugely important part of Lewes’ history and we have a duty to create something that not only benefits those who live here, but the wider community through jobs, apprenticeship, places to eat, drink and play – and open and beautiful public spaces.”
Human Nature also plan for the Belvedere to connect to the Thomas Paine footbridge and to the Foundry Yards, the Phoenix’s largest public square.
A new taproom is proposed to open on to the Belvedere at mezzanine level – with outdoor tables providing the only place in Lewes to sit and eat and look out to the river.
Built around repurposed community buildings – such as a canteen, wintergarden and events space and hotel – the Foundry Yards will lead directly onto the river, through arches in the wall to a jetty on the river.
Human Nature believe the Phoenix will also improve access into the river – with a launch point for small vessels such as kayaks, and a boat house, which will sit at the southern end of the neighbourhood, making it far easier to use the river.
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The company also said the bankside area will also provide space for rain gardens and support wildlife – with ecological features promoting new habits and regenerating existing ones for native species.
Human Nature also claim the Phoenix will also provide the town with much-needed homes and jobs, including apprenticeships, new community buildings and public squares, flood defences and health centre.