North Street area - our chance to make a difference

I am visiting Lewes this week and am particularly interested to return to the North Street area.

I am already aware that the site as it stands has considerable value to the community, providing a seedbed for small businesses to grow and space for industries, businesses and creativity of huge value to Lewes.

Of course the North Street area has been eyed by several prospective developers in recent years, each time fuelling heated debate on its future well before any formal planning application.

However, the site now sits in the middle of a National Park, which offers a golden opportunity to nurture a development that leads the way in environmental, economic and energy resilience.

The site cost developers Santon over £5 million, and clean-up and flood defence works are rumoured to be in the region of £30 million, so the imperative to deliver a plan that will simply maximise commercial return on the site looks depressingly high.

We surely have a chance – and an incentive – to do things differently.

Any development must be resilient in terms of energy, economy and environment and should be a showcase of what the future could be.

There should be truly affordable, social rented housing that would be flood resilient, zero carbon buildings, renewable energy generation and low energy transport – the area should be largely car-free.

The Green Party believes that we need to prepare for a future with a changing climate and depleting fossil fuels and resources.

I would ask Santon to respect both Lewes’s reputation as being in the forefront of the transition movement and the real needs of future generations of Lewesians.

This site needs a truly Green vision.

Keith Taylor

Green MEP for the South East of England