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Final regeneration plans submitted for Lewes North Street Quarter

Aerial visualisation of North Street Quarter - 2015

Final amendments to the joint-planning application to regenerate the North Street and Phoenix Industrial Estate area of Lewes were submitted to the South Downs National Park Authority by the applicants Lewes District Council and Santon North Street this week.

These are the final stages of a development debate that has continued over 15 years, with the applicants holding comprehensive public consultation in the three years before submitting the application in March 2015. These latest amendments reflect points of clarity raised through the formal comment period over the summer months.

Lewes residents and businesses have helped to shape the scheme’s final design during a three-year programme of community consultation events. Hundreds of comments were collected at the consultation events by an independent organisation, The Democratic Society. Discussion continued through dozens of local design workshops, involving local people and the National Parks design panel, and National Design group ATLAS, who facilitated two Lewes Town X-Ray events focused on design aspects of the plans which were widely publicised and the requirements and views of specific groups, such as the views of schoolchildren, tenants and residents living adjacent to the site, were explored further at their own dedicated events.

The scheme for the 15 acre brownfield site will deliver 416 new homes, 40 per cent of them affordable, a first for the Lewes District, as well as completing the town flood defences, a riverside walk and cycleway linking the town to the countryside and new public squares and gardens overlooking the river.

It includes 140,000 sq ft of flexible employment space accommodating 475 full-time registered jobs and responding to local business demand, introducing subsidised rents for creative start up businesses for half of the workspace included in the new North Street Quarter, available at around 50% of market rate, through a Section 106 agreement.

A covered ‘pay on exit’ public carpark with 330 spaces, replacing the existing car parks, will support the new quarter and town centre shoppers and tourists and a new Health Hub will serve 26,000 patients in the town and wider region, with attractive riverside gardens.

The scheme also boasts state of the art eco-credentials, with green building technology included in every aspect of the design, a district heating system, which will use thermal energy from the River Ouse to heat the homes and workspaces, as well as sustainable urban drainage systems.

Cllr Andy Smith, Leader of Lewes District Council, said: “I am delighted with the final regeneration scheme being proposed for this brownfield site in the heart of Lewes. We have the opportunity to create a vibrant, mixed use neighborhood which will reconnect this run down area to the heart of Lewes, providing the sustainable homes and jobs we need, as well as supporting the town centre and attracting more visitors to enjoy it.”

Clive Wilding of Santon North Street said: “Both local planning policy and extensive consultation with local people over the last three years have been key in helping us to shape the North Street Quarter proposals and we are grateful for the debate and time people have invested to influence our proposals.

“It is good we have now after such a long time, before even the floods of October 2000, actually reached a stage where an application is going to a Planning Committee, and our resolve is to get this regeneration delivered and the much needed housing built in line with the town’s Local Plan as soon as possible. We have the resources to do this and after this initial planning investment we are very keen to get on and deliver the homes and community benefits that will give the area a long sustainable future integrated into the history of the town.”

“The majority of feedback on the scheme has been very positive, we have, however, made several further amendments in response to some local concerns, for example residents in the Pells area raised concerns that flood defences for their homes were delayed to the third phase of development, rather than being in the first phase. We have been able to accommodate this and will build the Pells defences on the western side of the site during phase one of construction.

“The amended proposals clarify the transport strategy more clearly, both during construction and after the scheme is completed. We are also delighted to have been able to set up a subsidy arrangement for creative start-up businesses, which will greatly help existing and new creative businesses in the area and we will invite local social enterprises to compete to manage this space, which includes a variety of flexible, affordable units at half the normal Lewes rents.”

Lewes District Council and Santon North Street are also working hard to assist existing businesses on the site, which currently benefit from extremely low rents in the flood-damaged sheds on the site, to find affordable interim and long-term accommodation in the new workspace on the site, at Malling Brooks and in other parts of the town, as appropriate.

Regarding homes, Lewes District Council, as the Housing Authority, will hold 100% of the nomination rights to the affordable homes when they are built, which will ensure they can house those registered as in need. They will have the benefit of a local lettings agreement that will ensure people local to Lewes are given priority for the affordable homes. In addition to the 165 affordable homes, 38 units of the open market sale housing will also be offered as a priority for those buyers either working or living locally for a fixed period.

Clive Wilding added: “We are absolutely committed to the 40% affordable housing which is financially viable within the scheme and are working closely with Lewes District Council. Legally of course, we have to operate this through a registered social landlord and we will work hard to identify one that will offer best value and we will transfer the completed homes to them for the construction price, which is around 50 per cent of market value.”

The North Street Quarter proposals directly address the new planning policy for this area, which is called Spatial Policy 3, of the Lewes and Southdowns National Park Joint Core Strategy, which was endorsed in February 2015 by the Government Planning Inspector in his preliminary findings on the Local Plan for the Lewes District.

The planning application has evolved and changed extensively in response to this public consultation. It also reflects feedback from the various statutory authorities and the results of technical surveys.

The detailed planning documents will be available on the South Downs National Park Authority website http://planningpublicaccess.southdowns.gov.uk/online-applications/ and summary information can be seen at the project website www.northstreetqtr.co.uk which will be updated and the planning documents loaded on over the next few days

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Notes to Editors:

Lewes District Council and Santon North Street Ltd, as landowners, have submitted a joint planning application to deliver affordable housing as well as a large number of wider economic and community benefits to people in Lewes.

The amended documents which form part of the planning application will shortly be available to view on the South Downs National Park Authority’s website: http://planningpublicaccess.southdowns.gov.uk/online-applications/

More information about the application is also available at: www.northstreetqtr.co.uk

Santon North Street is a joint venture between The Santon Group (www.thesantongroup.co.uk) and MAS real estate inc (www.masrei.com)

The Santon Group is the main property vehicle for Bim Sandhu, former CEO of The Swan Hill Group, Raven Mount plc and co-founder of Raven Russia Limited.  The Santon Group was founded over 20 years ago and has undertaken over 3 million sq. ft. of commercial and residential development in the last 7 years and is, in particular, known for its work in the restoration of listed buildings.

MAS real estate inc is a real estate investment company that has been investing in mutiple mixed use development, employment space, office, retail and industrial and other property sectors initially in the UK, Germany and Switzerland. The Company’s objectives and investment strategy is aimed at investors seeking European commercial property opportunities that yield stable returns and portfolio diversification.

Recent projects include New Waverley, a £150million development mixed use development of hotels, creative workspace, offices, retail and 200 homes. Phase 1 is nearly complete in a UNESCO site just off the Royal Mile in Edinburgh, www.newwaverley.com

Another example of the company’s investments and delivery is the regeneration of a 48 acre light industrial estate, upgrading 28 acres with existing occupiers to a technology park and construction of hotels, 420 homes and retail space at Langley Park Chippenham, http://langleyparkchippenham.com

Planning and construction timetable:

Winter 2015 – Planning committee

Early 2016 -Start on site

Early 2018 – Complete Phase 1

Summer 2019 – Complete Phase 2 & start Phase 3

End 2021 – Completion

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