I am pleased that Sussex Express has, over the past couple of months, given such prominence in its news pages to the unfolding story of the North Street development.
This is, after all, an issue which will have a huge impact on the type of town Lewes is going to become in the coming years.
But, because the story is complex, and there are so many players involved, I think it is necessary not only to report each weekly twist, but also to give some balanced contextual information. For example, if I remember correctly, there have been a couple of weeks where you have focused on the Lewes Phoenix Rising proposals, but, in all the other weeks when the development has been discussed, LPR’s name hasn’t been mentioned. Let us remind ourselves that LPR’s proposal is the only realistic alternative to that provided by the Santon Development Group. LPR has arisen out of Lewes people’s concern about the Santon proposal to demolish the buildings which house so many thriving enterprises, and replace them with a bland consumer paradise which insults us all by memorialising the industry which it has destroyed in the names and shapes of the proposed new buildings. The Santon Group is, as I understand it, backed by a South African private equity fund called M.A.S. I don’t know what a private equity fund is, but I get the sense that Santon’s motivation is entirely to do with profit and not at all with the welfare of Lewes. The ‘affordable’ housing in Santon’s proposal merely conforms to the government’s definition of affordable, which is 80% of the market rate.
I cannot envisage Santon’s development, if it was given the go-ahead, being anything but a soulless piece of clonetown within Lewes.
I understand that it would be a dereliction of duty for Sussex Express to omit to mention Santon’s proposal when discussing the future of the North Street area, but please let it also mention that there is a serious, worthy, Town-Council-backed, not-for-profit alternative that has been produced by Lewes residents.