The Society’s current position on a possible development of this site is as follows. In the first instance it is important to recognise that the LDC meeting which took place on 4 December approved for public consultation the Local Plan for the District which had already been approved by the National Park Authority. It is anticipated that publication will take place early in the New Year and the Society will be considering how to respond to it. The Planning Inspectorate will consider any comments made and decide whether the Plan can be approved with or without amendment.
Essentially a Local Plan sets out how land may be used and forms the background on which subsequent planning decisions are made. The current draft, when approved, will replace the existing Local Plan approved nearly 20 years ago. In the current case the Government require the draft plan to provide sites for future housing and one site so identified is the North Street area in Lewes for which a provisional allocation of 350 dwellings is made. No other sites are identified in the town, such as Old Malling Farm, as it will be for the Town Council to develop a Neighbourhood Plan that identifies sites for a further 360 dwellings. Inclusion of a site in a Local Plan does not mean that demolition of existing property and rebuild is imminent, as a planning application must be made in the normal way and work cannot start until it is approved.
The Society is in touch with Santon, the prospective developer of the site, and they are aware of the various activities that are currently taking place there, partly because in most cases the organisations concerned are their tenants. They have not yet formulated plans for the redevelopment and will be holding an event on Saturday 19 January in the Town Hall where the public can express their views on what they would like to see on a rejuvenated site.
The Society’s position is that the current site is scruffy and does not enhance the appearance of the town. It therefore supports redevelopment there as it is far more preferable to Old Malling Farm which is a conspicuous greenfield site. However development at North Street must be of good design, meet the needs of the town and include flood protection measures. It has also indicated that it would like a riverside path and that there should be good connections with the existing town centre. Provision for existing activities on the site should be made and the possibility of retaining the historic buildings on the site considered. However these are matters for discussion with the developer as he advances his plans and it is not appropriate to raise them in connection with the draft Local Plan which is concerned with land use only.
Santon have set up a website about this development at www.northstreetqtr.co.uk/