Lewes has right to balanced debate over North St Quarter

On 14 April Lewes Town Council’s Planning Committee considered and objected to the application for the £100m plus North Street Quarter scheme, the most significant planned development in Lewes in half a century.

Just four of the eleven members came to the developer’s briefing the previous week and seven attended the meeting that put forward the Town Council’s view to the South Downs National Park who will take the final decision. Of the seven, five ‘declared an interest’, four as supporters of Lewes Phoenix Rising’s rival scheme and one as the partner of a tenant on the present estate. All five remained in the room, took part in the debate and in the Committee’s decision. I say ‘decision’ because no member proposed an action, no show of hands took place but the Town Clerk summarised what he understood to be the agreed view of the Committee and arranged to circulate it to those members who had been present for final confirmation.

I should add that the Committee gave approximately the same amount of time to the North Street Quarter application as it did to the previous application for a small barn conversion. Cllr Susan Murray, the Chairman, allowed a representative of Phoenix Rising to make a comprehensive objection to Santon and Lewes District Council’s application. But she just paraphrased a letter from the applicant who was unable to be present, leaving out much of the detail and ending , “blah, blah, blah”. Phoenix Rising have every right to object to the Santon/LDC proposal and to promote their alternative. But the town has every right to expect a fair, informed and balanced debate by its Council at the end of which a member has made a proposal on which the Committee has then voted.

Cllr John Stockdale

Lewes District and Town Councils - Bridge Ward