DRAMATIC plans to transform the Lewes townscape have been re-kindled with the purchase of the Phoenix Estate.
It opens the way for radical development of the prime riverside site, creating a new gateway to the east of the county town.
It is understood that the purchase price paid by The Santon Group was in the region of £6m.
The company last week acquired the 14.5-acre site previously owned by Angel Properties Ltd and Terracotta Properties (Riverside) Ltd, in receivership.
The future of the controversial Phoenix area has been in doubt for several years. But the purchase suggests ambitious, far-reaching plans for a new town square linking Eastgate with the North Street area are back on the agenda.
At the heart of proposals would be a 50-bedroom hotel to bolster the Lewes tourism industry.
The broad vision is for a residential-led, mixed-use development.
Housing, shops, restaurants and cafes would combine to transform what is generally agreed to be a run-down area.
A wide range of businesses could be incorporated, together with flood defences and high quality landscaping to complement the adjacent River Ouse.
London-based Santon refused to confirm the purchase price for the site, which it has now named as The North Street Quarter.
Santon (North Street Quarter) Ltd is an Isle of Man-based investment company which sees the rejuvenation of the area to have, reportedly, a gross development value in excess of £80m.
The Mayor of Lewes, Cllr John Stockdale, is Chairman of the Lewes Community Land Trust. He said: “We wish to engage with the Santon Group constructively as the new owner of this important site in our town.
“We are in contact with them and hope to discuss shortly how they propose to work with the community in bringing forward this development, given its central importance to the life of the town.”
A spokesman for Santon (North Street Quarter) Ltd said: “At present this is a very early stage in the process and our first objective will be to undertake various surveys and consider the longer history of the site before we start to consider details of any regeneration proposals.
“At the appropriate time, when more background information is gathered, the company will fully consult with both the public and all the statuatory authorities.”