Industry will be driven to wall if Lewes’s Phoenix Estate is relocated

After reading Clive Hobden’s letter (Sussex Express, April 17th 2015), I was left wondering whether he had been down to North Street, Lewes, recently to see all the great industry, creativity and jobs that he quite ignorantly refers to as ‘our spartist-lentil art brethren’.

Given the great need to support local craftspeople, artists and jobs today, I wondered if Mr Hobden was aware of the alternative solution that is being developed by Phoenix Rising, instead of the complete demolition of North Street Industrial Estate.

In a recent presentation (14/4/2015) from Andrew Simpson to Lewes Town Council’s Planning Committee regarding Planning Application SDNP/15/01146/FUL, he made a compelling case that there currently is a flourishing community and economy that supports in excess of 450 jobs and 50 businesses in the heart of Lewes. On that, and many other grounds, Lewes Town Council objected to the current planning application by Santon.

Maybe Mr Hobden would like to clarify whether he finds it acceptable that local industries, which heavily rely on low rents, will basically be driven to the wall if they are made to relocate to accommodation at significantly higher rents. Furthermore, the accommodation space that these North Street businesses currently occupy will not be appropriately reallocated within other areas of Lewes earmarked for commercial development.

Hopefully Mr Hobden has found the time to visit and appreciates the real value that the businesses in North Street add to Lewes, the National Park and the region. But as it currently stands the Santon planning application for North Street will more than likely, damage the livelihood of many businesses. And given that a significant amount of land is owned by Lewes District Council, it is extremely disappointing that our Local Authority probably wants to see the Santon development succeed with a potential loss of many local businesses.

The Phoenix Rising proposal offers an alternative solution that looks to support local employment, and maintain and encourage greater local businesses that make Lewes unique. The Phoenix Rising proposal also offers a credible alternative that addresses the chronic shortage of truly affordable homes that Lewes desperately needs.The alternative proposal also believes that this prominent piece of Local Authority Real Estate should be developed to support the needs of local businesses and local families in Lewes. A real legacy for our town’s communities.

The public still have an opportunity to shape the future of North Street by commenting on Planning Application SDNP/15/01146/FUL via the South Downs National Park Planning Portal until 30th April 2015. I, and many other residents hope that a more considered proposal for North Street development will emerge and address the true needs of local businesses and families that need truly affordable housing for many generations to come in Lewes.

Matt Kent

Independent Prospective Candidate for Lewes District Council, Lewes Bridge Ward