Lewes council leaders have signed off on the next steps of the North Street Quarter project amid calls to make the development more eco-friendly.
On Monday (June 10), Lewes District Council‘s Conservative cabinet met to discuss the next stages and consider proposals needed to move ahead with the scheme.
While the details of the proposals were discussed in private due to its commercial confidentiality, the LDRS understands cabinet signed off on work required to acquire some third-party land during the meeting.
The land, which forms part of the site, is understood to belong to neither Lewes District Council nor North Street Quarter Limited.
Cabinet members also agreed to take the steps needed to appoint a developer, which would be expected to build out all three phases of the scheme.
Speaking after the meeting, cabinet member for strategic development Jim Lord said it was time for the council to ‘get on and make it happen’.
He said: “Having been briefed by senior officers since my election in May and seeing the incredible scale of the housing, health and raft of sustainability benefits it offers, not least the completion of critical flood defences, we must now get on and make it happen.
“Let’s not forget, this transformational scheme will create nearly 500 new jobs. I call on every stakeholder and council partner in the project – including those still to conclude relocation negotiations – to put their shoulders to the wheel and help deliver this once in a generation scheme as quickly as possible.
“This is a legacy moment for us all, and we should all remember this.”
The cabinet decision came amid criticism from the council’s Green Party group over the environmental impact of the development.
In a statement released ahead of the meeting, Green Party group leader Zoe Nicholson said she would be calling on cabinet members to buy up the site in an effort to improve its carbon neutrality measures.
If not, Cllr Nicholson said, the council should buy the 165 affordable homes within the site and encourage developers to improve the scheme’s environmental impact.
She said: “A development of this importance, that is being built in the next few years, needs to be carbon neutral, otherwise it will simply add to the problem not make it better”.
“The agreed plan is uninspiring, fossil fuel dependent, and car-centric. Hardly something to be proud of!
“While this is not this administration’s doing, as the National Park is responsible for the planning consent itself, we have a continuing duty to make sure we get the most from this development at every turn.
“If the previous Conservative cabinet had thought about this earlier, they could have bought the land and possibly saved taxpayer money.
“Now they will have to buy the homes from the developer, which might well end up costing the taxpayer more than it should have.”
The project was first granted planning permission in 2016 through a hybrid application.
Phase one was given full permission and outline permission was granted for phases two and three in this 2016 application.
The final details of phase two and three were granted full planning permission by the South Downs National Park Authority in April.
Once complete, the full development will include 416 homes, a health centre for more than 28,000 people, flood defences, a riverside cycleway and a new bridge for pedestrians and cyclists across the River Ouse.