North Street Quarter is designed using the latest principles for town centres today. These principles prioritise pedestrians and cyclists rather than vehicles. Vehicle speeds will be lowered to less than 20mph, ensuring pedestrian priority at all times. Examples of this already operate in Lewes’ Cliffe High Street and you can also see it working well in New Road in Brighton.
The development of North Street Quarter will reconnect this part of Lewes to the town centre. The site has been designed to integrate with existing safe cycle and pedestrian routes. Shops, the station and schools within walking distance make it easy for people to consider every mode of transport and not just rely on the car.
Traffic studies show that the development will have no adverse impact on the town’s traffic flows. The impact of the proposed redevelopment on the existing road network is an increase of 1-2% (about 15 extra cars per hour). This is low considering the development scale, because Eastgate and the North Street Quarter already have a lot of traffic movement with existing long-term car parks and existing retail use.
We see this as an opportunity to make changes to how traffic has always dominated this part of town, splitting the area north of Causeway from the town centre. Main roads such as the Phoenix Causeway, East Street and Little East Street are significant pedestrian barriers, even though they are 20mph zones.
The Causeway is a key gateway to the town and is a good opportunity to realise improved environment, pedestrian and cycle links. Finding the balance between cars and people has been the major challenge and we believe we have found the right solution. This will mean a change to the existing gyratory system, removing the double route through the road network, which adds to pollution and delays.
A new second footbridge connecting Malling Fields and the new development will further benefit and create good foot and cycle links to immediate areas.
The North Street Quarter site will retain and improve the public car parking on site, which in turn will be expected to relieve the town centre traffic caused by drivers looking for a parking space.
Our traffic modelling and research suggests that 18% of the traffic driving around the town is trying to find car parking! If we can stop this earlier, the visitor traffic driving around town should reduce.
We will address these issues in the first phase of development through the construction of a car park. This new covered facility will provide 330 public parking spaces within a five minute walk of the High Street. Vehicle access will be directly onto the Causeway, meaning visiting town traffic will quickly turn off and park within close walking distance of the town centre. Pedestrian access points are directly to the river.
The new car park will make the most of an existing manmade cavity in the site, a legacy from the construction of the Causeway in the 1970s. The North Street Quarter scheme will raise the street level to its historic street level, grading it down to the centre of the site. The space created will be made into an underground car park with 330 spaces, offering affordable 24-hour parking to workers, shoppers and leisure visitors, with plenty of naturally lit pedestrian exits into different parts of the North Street Quarter.
Improving the existing parking provision and encouraging visitors to ‘park and stride’ into Lewes will not only support the new residential area and businesses, it will also support tourism and boost the economy of the town. The car park will be ‘pay on exit’ so visitors will not be under pressure to return quickly to parking meters. In addition to public car parking spaces, the homes have 186 parking spaces on the streets or within the house plots and there are a further 178 covered spaces for both commercial and residential vehicles by permit.