FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS
What has been agreed for the North Street Quarter?
Planning permission has been granted to regenerate the area around North Street, including the Phoenix Industrial Estate, reconnecting it to the heart of Lewes.
The development will create a vibrant, mixed-use neighbourhood designed to reflect and complement the character and heritage of Lewes.
Highlights of the scheme include: 416 homes, 40% of them affordable and in addition, 15% of the market homes will have a local first priority; completing vital town flood defences; a riverside walkway and cycleway connecting neighbourhoods; new public squares and gardens; flexible employment space; improved public and visitor car parking; improved pedestrian and cycle connections to public transport; improved local highway infrastructure; and a health hub serving 26,000 patients.
What input have local people had in the proposals?
Lewes residents and businesses have helped to shape the scheme’s final design during a three-year programme of community consultation events, which started in 2012. Hundreds of comments were collected at three consultation exhibitions run by an independent organisation, The Democratic Society. Design workshops were facilitated by ATLAS, a Government design agency employed by the planning authority to help facilitate discussion which continued through dozens of local design workshops, and two Lewes Town X-Ray events focused on design aspects of the plans. These events were promoted through three leaflet drops to all households in Lewes and adverts in the local media. The requirements and views of specific groups, such as the views of schoolchildren and residents living adjacent to the site, were explored further at their own dedicated events.
This consultation has been key in helping to shape the North Street Quarter proposals. Consultation and engagement will also continue up to, during and beyond the construction of the development.
How many homes will the regeneration deliver?
The number one message from the public during consultation was the need for as many affordable homes as possible for local people. This scheme will deliver:
416 homes, with 40% of them – a total of 165 – being affordable. In fact, the North Street Quarter will be the first significant development in the district to achieve 40% affordable housing.
In addition a further 15% (38) of the open market homes will be available as a first priority to local people.
What size of homes are being built and who will live in them?
Of the 416 homes, 55% have two bedrooms or less, some specifically designed for young, single people, and 45% have three bedrooms or more.
The scheme includes homes to cater for a wide range of household types including single people, couples and families. This includes affordable homes designed specifically for the needs of single young people and also the elderly. All homes will be built to the principles of Lifetime Home standards, which will ensure they are suitable for households at whatever stage of life they are at. This means they are easily adapted if the occupier has very specific housing requirements as their life changes, saving considerable costs in moving in later life.
What is meant by ‘affordable housing’ in this context?
Affordable housing in this planning context means homes made available to people on the Lewes District Council housing register who would not otherwise be able to afford to rent or buy a home. Central Government defines the initial cost of affordable housing and the local housing authority manages the allocation of all the affordable homes in an area to ensure that the maximum number of people are suitably housed.
Will local people benefit from these homes?
Lewes District Council, as the Housing Authority, will hold 100% of the nomination rights to the affordable homes when they are built, thus ensuring who are registered as “in need” will be housed. 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 housing will also be offered as a priority for those buyers either working or living locally for a fixed period.
How will you ensure the affordable housing is going to be genuinely affordable?
We are absolutely committed to optimising the affordability of the 40% affordable housing possible within the North Street Quarter scheme. Working together, North Street Quarter Ltd and Lewes District Council, which is also the local housing authority, will make the most of any Government funding available at the time of delivering construction to ensure that the housing is as affordable as it is possible to make it.
Locally we have heard that “affordable housing will be at 80% of value” we have never stated that we are more determined and will strive to do better that the stated government target of 80% of value as mentioned in the National Planning Policy Framework but can only do this by working in cooperative partnerships.
It is simply not possible to claim or establish precise costs for the homes now because Government funding options for affordable housing change continuously and so does the housing market. The key will be selecting a Registered Social Provider who can offer best value and quality of management to ensure that funding and management costs do not push the rents up. We will transfer the completed homes to the registered social provider for the construction price, rather than the market value. Depending on final costs this is normally around 50% of the market value.
We also recognise that it is not just the purchase/rental cost that helps people afford a home to live in, but the running costs also play a key role. With this in mind, all housing in the North Street Quarter scheme is being designed to keep running costs, particularly in terms of energy bills, to a minimum. This is through a commitment to high levels of sustainability and sustainable construction techniques being employed, including the use of renewable and low carbon energy generation. In addition, all homes will be built in accordance with the principles of the Lifetime Home standards. This means that they will be capable of adaptation should a resident’s circumstances change, so that accessibility improvements and adaptations can easily be made to their property. This takes away the need for people to move on when such life changes come along.
Is there an opportunity for local community groups to be involved in delivering the affordable housing?
Very much so, in fact we have been in discussion with Lewes Community Land Trust (as they are set up for this purpose) about taking some units, around 15 at present, of the affordable homes as “self-finish”. We see this as an opportunity for local families to secure an affordable entry into the housing market. We are developing funding models with the Lewes Community Land Trust and this will involve discussion with the government’s Homes and Community Agency regarding some affordable funding assistance.
ECONOMIC REGENERATION AND EMPLOYMENT
What jobs and economic benefits will Lewes gain from this scheme?
- 475 full time equivalent (FTE) registered jobs accommodated in 140,000 sq ft of new workspace, which includes 75,000 sq ft light industrial space at Malling Brooks (already built).
- Subsidised rent on some creative workspace secured in perpetuity through a section 106 agreement for start-up businesses.
- 100 full time construction jobs with an apprentice scheme and emphasis on recruiting local people.
- £150 million inward investment into Lewes and the South Downs National Park.
Will the flexible space be suitable for small creative industries
We believe so. The spaces vary considerably in size and also height, with some space being suitable to constructing two-storey dinosaurs one day and running dance classes the next day.
The units are multi-consented to allow total and flexible use, so people can come in and use the space and make or sell things or run classes, without each time going back to obtain new planning consents.
All the units are safe working environments with proper servicing areas and all built to high standard of low carbon building regulations.
Our research showed that creative workspaces were very much hubs and different businesses shared ideas and experience and worked together in many practical ways, which is why we have designed the units to be along the new high street.
To many, this will look like an extension of Market Street, with its housing, galleries, shops, cafes and some workshops. All of this floor space is in a mixed-use environment, which includes homes, recreation and community facilities. To ensure these uses complement one another, as opposed to creating unneighbourly uses, careful thought has been given to the design and specification of the scheme, addressing issues such as noise, servicing, waste disposal and general public safety.
What are the guiding principles for your transport strategy?
Our starting point on transport and a design principle in the local plan, is to ensure that housing is constructed in sustainable brownfield locations, where it will always be easier to walk and cycle than to drive. We want to create an opportunity to live in a sustainable location with shops, job opportunities, the train and bus stations and schools within walking distance, making it easy for people to consider every mode of transport and not just rely on the car.
Careful mapping, agreed with the Highways Authority, has recorded and forecast transport flows (by cars, foot and cycle) throughout the town and the site has been designed to integrate with existing safe cycle and pedestrian routes. This improved network will help reconnect this site to the rest of Lewes and surrounding countryside, benefiting both the communities who live or work within the North Street Quarter and the wider town.
Key features of the scheme which encourage pedestrian and cycle movement are: a new foot and cycle bridge over the river, connecting the new public square to Malling Brooks and beyond to Malling Fields; and a two-level riverside cycleway and pathway leading all the way from the Causeway to the countryside beyond the Pells.
How will the development impact on traffic and parking in Lewes?
North Street Quarter is extremely well located to allow for ease of access to the excellent public transport provision in Lewes town. This will therefore minimise the need for car journeys to and from the site, although it is still accepted that the scheme will generate traffic. Our submitted traffic modelling, agreed with East Sussex County Council, has shown the development will not have an adverse impact on traffic. What we are trying to cater for is the delivery of the whole of the planning policy area, which includes redevelopment of Waitrose, (new right hand turn) and at the request of East Sussex County Council, allow for traffic growth generally in the area with our development.
North Street Quarter will introduce a range of phased highway improvements to the existing Causeway and gyratory system, future proofing the design for a redeveloped Waitrose. This will ensure food retail traffic and visitor traffic does not cause congestion in town while drivers look for parking.
In the first phase of development, a public ‘pay on exit’ car park will be constructed, accessed directly from the Causeway. This new facility will create 330 parking spaces within a five-minute walk of the High Street. Our research showed that 18% of the traffic driving around Lewes at peak time is trying to find somewhere to park. Providing a new car park that cannot be seen from anywhere in the South Downs at the gateway into the town and saves visitors from entering the town network will be a massive boost to reducing traffic.
This will support the High Street and boost tourism, which already represents £50 million to the Lewes District economy.
What are the proposed highway improvements?
1. New ‘All-movements’ Junction off Phoenix Causeway
The main access for vehicles into North Street Quarter will be via a new road (New Eastgate Street) that joins the north side of Phoenix Causeway between the Waitrose car park exit and Eastgate Street. The junction will be controlled by traffic lights and there will be new pedestrian crossings and advanced stop lines for cyclists on all approaches to the junction.
The new junction into North Street Quarter is an all-movements junction. This means traffic coming over the bridge will be able to turn right into New Eastgate Street and traffic coming down Little East Street will be able to turn left into New Eastgate Street. Traffic coming out of North Street Quarter can turn left onto Phoenix Causeway and right towards Waitrose and the town Centre.
2. Improved Pedestrian and Cycle Access to Town Centre
The carriageway on Little East Street will be narrowed to reduce traffic speed and there will be pedestrian crossings at either end, as well as crossings at the Market Street/ North Street junction. A further five crossings are proposed for Phoenix Causeway between the Tesco roundabout and Eastgate Street.
There will be a shared footway/cycleway on the north side of Phoenix Causeway and advanced stop lines for cyclists are proposed on the carriageway for all junctions that are under traffic signal control. These junctions are:
• Little East Street / Eastgate Street
• Phoenix Causeway / Eastgate Street
• Phoenix Causeway / New Eastgate Street
• Phoenix Causeway / Waitrose car park
3. New Right Turn onto Phoenix Causeway from Waitrose Car Park
Waitrose shoppers will be able to turn right as well as left out of the car park onto Phoenix Causeway. This will help to reduce traffic in the town centre as people will no longer have to loop round East Street-Market Street- Little East Street in order to head west towards the bridge and out of town. The junction will be traffic light controlled.
4. Traffic Calming Measures on North Street
The carriageway on North Street will be narrowed and the junctions with Brook Street and Lancaster Street will be tightened to help reduce traffic volume and speed.
What improvements are being made to the parking provision?
An underground car park with a total of 506 spaces will be constructed underneath the health hub. 328 of these will be for public use providing a net increase of 116 public parking spaces for the town.
To encourage bike use there is covered parking for bikes around the homes and secure public bike storage areas in the covered public car park.
Where will patients of the health hub park?
It is proposed that patients of the health hub that need to use the car park would provide their registration number when booking an appointment. This would be logged and would allow them up to 1 hour free parking in the underground car park for every appointment. There are a further seven public spaces above the car park next to the ambulance bay, which could be used as a drop off. The health hub will also have parking space for up to 18 mobility scooters
Thanks to the location of the health hub many patients will be able to access the health hub on foot and by bus – bus stops are located within a few minutes’ walk on Phoenix Causeway (Tesco stop) and Lewes Bus Station/ Waitrose.
How many parking spaces per house will there be for new residential development?
178 spaces in the underground car park will be for North Street Quarter residential or commercial use permit holders. A further 186 spaces, on street or in the home plot, will be provided in the scheme.
How will you manage construction traffic over this long period?
Like all such developments, we will have a ‘Construction Environmental Management Plan’ and we will work with local residents and businesses and any others affected to minimise disturbance to homes, businesses and the road network. Our contractors will be required to work to the ‘Considerate Contractors’ standards.
Will there be electric car charging points?
Yes, in the underground car park.
Will there be a car club?
Where will the coach parking be moved to?
As part of the offsite highway improvements it is proposed to provide a lay-by along the Causeway for coaches to drop-off and pick-up their passengers, with longer term parking bays being provided around Malling Brooks Industrial Estate and/or Mayhew Way or Southdowns Road.
Managing the River
As well as completing the town’s flood defences, North Street Quarter will open up the river for leisure users. The proposals include a new riverside promenade which will be open to everyone and a slipway so that small boats can be launched.
Why do we need flood defences here?
Many of the buildings in the Phoenix Industrial Estate are not insurable, due to flood risk, making it impossible to attract long-term investment and sustainable employment.
Since the big floods of 2000, significant research has been undertaken and reports produced on how to manage flood defences in the area, mainly led by the Environment Agency. This has informed the completed flood defence works for Lewes with the exception of North Street and Pells district flood cells.
This explains why Spatial Policy 3 in the approved local plan joint core strategy http://www.lewes.gov.uk/corestrategy/ has incorporated wording that is a requirement to complete the flood defences to North Street.
Our water engineering team has used this extensive research and completed works to implement a water management design strategy, in full consultation with resident groups and the statutory authorities, including the Environment Agency.
Below is a link to a good summary document, one of many produced by DEFRA, that provides a helpful explanation.
What has been agreed about Pells Flood Defences?
Residents in the Pells area raised concerns that flood defences were delayed in the planning application to the third phase of development, rather than being in the first phase as had been discussed in the early design stages.
However, responding to residents’ anxiety and desire to have flood defences as quickly as possible to protect their homes and the area, we have worked out a way of making it possible to build the Pells defences to be completed by the time 70% of phase 1 is completed (the first 18 months).
Our commitment to this has been made through our Section 106 legal agreement.
Why is working with the river so important?
An important aspect of our decision to remove the sheds on the site of the old ironworks is that we are required by the Environment Agency and planning policy to create flood defences for the development. These need to be built along the stretch of the river where a number of the sheds are currently positioned. These defences will also have the benefit of defending areas outside North Street Quarter, such as Pells.
Through our consultation, one of the most important points raised by local people was a desire to access the river and at present the sheds block access to the river here.
Making use of the whole site, the North Street Quarter proposals allow us to create flood defences and also to create a two-level pathway and cycleway by the river running all the way from the Causeway to Willeys Bridge. We can also open up views and access to the river the whole way along the site, so that we make the most of this valuable and beautiful resource.
What public spaces are included in the scheme?
The scheme includes a new riverside promenade and footpath at two levels with a second footbridge, connecting neighbourhoods and the town, reducing walking distances and creating an environment that builds on the pleasures of walking around Lewes.
The new public square offers space for eating al fresco and holding events, surrounded by large flexible spaces for creative industry, including performance space, which all contribute to the riverside enjoyment.
The state of the art new health centre serving 26,000 patients, includes public exhibition space and gardens by the riverside.
The scheme also includes a play strategy, which will improve existing community play spaces at Pells Park and Malling Recreation Ground.
Are there any facilities for young people?
As part of our consultation we spoke to schools and the input from those who took part was very valuable.
We have sublet one of the spaces as a skateboard park temporarily and part of the Play Space strategy is looking at relocating this skate facility at the Malling Fields. There will be a lot more detailed consultation on this as we progress detailed design and consulting with young people is very much part of that.
What sustainable features does the scheme include?
The whole of the North Street Quarter scheme is designed to be carbon neutral, based on the ‘Use Less First’ principle, which aims to reduce the impact on the environment by not using resources in the first place.
So the starting point is all homes on the site will be highly energy efficient, which will decrease both energy demand and carbon emissions. The buildings will have approximately 15 per cent higher insulation standards than current Building Regulation requirements. Power from renewable sources will be achieved through the provision of photovoltaics (solar panelling) to the roofs of new homes and bulk power contracts from renewable energy providers.
Other eco-friendly initiatives include managing rainwater in a more ecological and sustainable way, with sustainable drainage systems and ecological corridors for wildlife networked across the whole site.
Will solar panels be installed in the North Street Quarter development?
Solar (photovoltaic or PV) panels were originally ruled out by the planning authority during the design process because of their negative visual impact in this beautiful South Downs setting. However, since the 2016 planning approval, the South Downs National Park (SDNPA) has increased its target for carbon reduction in new developments and has advised that PV panels might be possible in some locations. Advances in technology mean that PV panels can be made to have less of a visual impact by reducing glare and matching the colour of the panels to the slate roofs.
Will river heating technology be used?
An initial feasibility study has been carried out and the concept is still under consideration. However, there is no planning requirement to include such a system so the decision will be made by the appointed developer as to whether it is the best solution for the scheme.
Design Process & Heritage
How will the new design fit in and complement Lewes town?
People in Lewes have been consistently clear that the scheme design must be in keeping with the unique style of the town, not necessarily copied, but a strong design that complements and connects well with the town.
A consortium of experienced architects and designers spent the first year with members of the public, getting to know the town and how its history has influenced its character. A large part of the design has been focused on reflecting the existing Lewes streets as well as taking into account the massing and scale of the town and how it fits into this magnificent landscape.
From there, architects undertook detailed character assessments of the existing town looking at everything from size of doors, height and numbers of floors, shapes and scale of buildings and have reflected this in the building design.
The design has then been interspersed with strong, key buildings, which help root the development in its industrial heritage and clearly define it with public spaces and places to stop and contemplate.
Throughout the planning process, the design team have consulted with The Design Working Group whose members are local residents with backgrounds in design, conservation and architecture. Their input has helped to shape the evolution of North Street Quarter’s design.
How does the design ensure the site’s heritage is not forgotten?
Respecting the history and heritage of the site and not forgetting that the Victorian Phoenix Ironworks once stood here has also been a key influence on the design of the site.
What little remains of the old foundry, which was destroyed by fire several times, will be used in the new site and a permanent exhibition of the remaining artefacts will be on display at the busy Health Hub by the river.
Although they have long since gone, the street patterns which existed around the former ironworks have been re-created in the new designs and some of the buildings sited around the new public square have been designed to remind us of the industrial past, whilst offering a useful future.
Why can’t you keep the original Phoenix Ironworks?
The ironworks suffered from fire damage on a number of occasions several years ago and these sheds are not the original structures, but were built between the 1950s and ‘70s.
Since the site suffered from flood damage in October 2000, development proposals began to emerge, not just for the Phoenix Ironworks, but the wider site. These proposals were, in part, being driven by the inability to secure investment and appropriate insurance cover for the units on the site. Hence a number of occupiers relocated to premises elsewhere. There is therefore a need to defend the site from flood risk. The ability to provide such defences, along with the riverside walkway, would be compromised if the Ironworks buildings were to be retained.
National professional heritage archaeologists and local archaeologists ASE have undertaken extensive surveys of the remaining buildings. Their report concluded that little of the existing structures remain worth keeping in the context of what was originally there, although the original fire station (Corporation Villas) and adjoining main foundry wall will remain.
However, the report recognises that the designs can use parts of the history and it may be possible to incorporate some of the more interesting features into new public buildings so the story of the site is not lost.
Retaining everything that is left, which the report concludes is of very little value historically in context, compared to the ability and need to provide flood defences, a riverside walkway, ground level parking, and addressing ground contamination, is not seen as the most appropriate and sustainable approach to redeveloping the site.
Who will ensure the agreed design principles are adhered to?
The implementation of design standards will be controlled by the local planning authority: the South Downs National Park Authority, through management of the approved design codes. Phase 1 is a detailed application and has already been tested against the Design Code. It is important whilst the Design Code can set high standards of design detail to be achieved, it also gives flexibility for possible improvement in design and later stages – and there is no reason why design cannot improve in time. Further consultation will be had on the detail of phases 2 and 3 of construction.
We have worked closely with local conservation groups such as the Lewes Conservation Area Advisory Group, Lewes Community Land Trust and Friends of Lewes; all of whom have been – and we hope will remain – active in the evolving design process and implementation of any approved design codes.
How will construction of the development be phased?
The scheme is divided into three phases
Phase 1 includes:
- A public square
- The health hub
- Underground public car park
- 238 homes, much of which are affordable one and two bedroom houses
Phase 2 includes 107 homes.
Phase 3 includes 71 homes.
Where will the new children who live in new homes go to school?
The Phoenix Industrial site is allocated for development in the new Lewes District Local Plan (also known as the Joint Core Strategy). As part of this strategy the authorities are required to assess and plan for education provision as part of the “Infrastructure Delivery Plan“. New residential development, which includes the North Street Quarter, will be expected to make financial contributions to increase the level of primary and tertiary education provision in the town. At this stage, it is considered that there is sufficient capacity within the secondary schools within the town to accommodate residential schemes such as the North Street Quarter. There are also plans to include a nursery school in the new health hub on the site.
What other provision is being made for children as part of the development?
The scheme includes a Play Strategy which will include improvements to Pell’s Park and Malling Fields, including a covered skate board park. These improvements will be developed in detail in close consultation with local people.
Will there be health facilities on the site?
Yes, working with existing doctor and dentist surgeries in the area, we are creating a health hub, serving 26,000 patients.
Where does the fire station go?
We are currently working with East Sussex Fire and Rescue Service to relocate the fire station to a new site in the town which meets their operational requirements.
The existing fire station is located in the part of the site that is identified as one of the later phases of development, which allows time for any relocation to take place.
How has safety and security been considered in the design?
If a space is busy with people, ‘passive surveillance’ makes an area safer and more secure and reduces crime. Our proposal will animate the area and ensure it is better used and feels less isolated, especially at night.
Will there be a continuous footpath connection along the southern side of the river?
A continuous connection will be provided along the southern side of the river on two levels.
Will the Pell’s Pool be overlooked?
The Regeneration Process
Has North Street Quarter Ltd got the financial resources to progress development?
North Street Quarter Ltd (formerly Santon North Street) is funded by MAS Rei, a substantial European investment fund. Since the acquisition of North Street in 2012, it has acquired and is in fact in construction on various considerably larger schemes which are now in the process of being delivered.
Most recent projects include New Waverley, a £150million 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 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
Will payments towards infrastructure and other improvements in the town have to be made and if so how will these be agreed and paid?
When new developments such as the North Street Quarter are planned, the developer has to pay a Section 106 payment and/or a Community Infrastructure Levy payment. The amount and what it will be spent upon has been negotiated with the South Downs National Park Authority, Lewes District Council, Lewes Town Council and East Sussex County Council and has now been approved.
The scheme also incorporates enormous investment in infrastructure on the site, including building flood defences and decontaminating land.
Who are the architects and engineers working on this development?
The lead architects are RH Partnership, working in collaboration with two other architects, Axis and Giles Jollands Architects. Tully De’Ath are the engineers and Macgregor Smith the landscape architects.
Who owns the North Street Quarter?
The majority of the land in North Street Quarter is owned by North Street Quarter Ltd and Lewes District Council, at approximately a 70:30 ratio respectively.
Who are the investors behind the North Street Quarter?
North Street Quarter is a public/private sector partnership between Lewes District Council and North Street Quarter Ltd representing a gross investment of £180m.
The Santon Group were an initial partner with MAS REI, but with planning obtained and the project moving into delivery mode, they have now stepped away. North Street Quarter Ltd is part of MAS Real Estate Inc, a real estate investment company that has been investing in multiple 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. For further information information please visit www.masrei.com
What is Lewes District Council’s role in the North Street Quarter proposal?
The District council is part landowner of the North Street Quarter site, along with North Street Quarter Ltd.
Separate to the council’s role as landowner, it is also the relevant housing authority for the site, as well as having a remit for environmental (particularly flood risk and drainage, contaminated land, air quality and noise) and regeneration considerations.
For more information about Lewes District Council and the services it provides please visit www.lewes-eastbourne.gov.uk
What is the role of the South Downs National Park Authority?
The South Downs National Park Authority is the planning authority for Lewes town and as such, has approved the planning application for the North Street Quarter development.
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