I am perplexed by the comment made by Clive Wilding of Santon, the developer of North St, in his and Rob Blackman’s (Leader of LDC) interview in Viva Lewes this month.
Regarding the displacement of the 50 businesses, dozens of self-employed and social and creative enterprises currently on site, in favour of a health centre and some new business/retail/cultural space, Wilding says of North Street ‘It’s difficult to know who is actually down there or whether they work full-time’.
This is bizarre from a man who has had an office on North St for three years, claims Santon has done extensive consultation and is on record saying there are more than 450 jobs on site. An independent survey company ‘Make Good’, commissioned by Santon in October 2014, put the number of people working just in the ‘creative industries’ on North Street, as 233 people.
Of course many are not there ‘full-time’. The carpenters go out to fit the film sets or kitchens they have built; the community kitchen goes out to teach people how to make the best of Food Banks; the theatre groups and bands having rehearsed go away to perform; the restorers go to their shops to sell; the artists leave their studios to paint, teach and exhibit; the solar engineers have to fit the panels; the youth venues for music, dance and skateboarding are only open after school; designers visit clients - I could go on here - and Wilding himself regularly disappears for days on end to work on other development projects.
It is precisely this laissez-faire attitude and ignorance displayed by Wilding, Blackman and others on the LDC that has led us at Lewes Phoenix Rising to strongly object, on behalf of our 1,300+ local signatories, to their deeply-flawed planning application.
Director, Lewes Phoenix Rising