Making use of a brownfield site such as North Street Quarter helps reduce the pressure to develop within the existing town fabric, thus avoiding cramming and reducing the need to build on green field or edge-of-town sites.
House type, style and the materials used for the building of any new homes must be driven by extensive research and sympathy for the local vernacular. Beyond design, it must reflect local people’s needs for housing, to ensure the development addresses the true demand.
The debate is not “old style housing versus modern contemporary housing”, rather “what is right for this site in its context of Lewes and the National Park?” This may mean a new style. The past can never be copied, only learned from in terms of quality and of design. The site has several different aspects, which make it worth considering several character zones, a mix of styles so very typical of any county town that has evolved over centuries. You can see how our designs have evolved hopefully reflecting earlier consultation events.
To help get this right, we are using a collection of architects, working in a collaborative way, managed through a Design Panel of independent professionals helping to guide common principles. In the first workshop we asked what you the public felt the design priorities should be before we started to design in detail. This has latterly been supported by additional public involvement, working with us, called Town X Ray where we have collectively worked to understand how the characterisation of the town can influence new the design. You see the results here.
Street and landscape design set the pace for buildings to follow. We feel this is so important that shortly after the first workshop we appointed our street designers and landscape architects, MacgregorSmith. Ensuring the streets work for pedestrians and cars is essential for the success of the development.
We also need to consider changes taking place in Lewes’s demographic mix. The town has a growing elderly population. Today’s building standards demand that all new housing is flexible to enable the elderly, infirm or disabled to continue to live in their own homes for as long as possible. Our plans are taking all of this into account and how this impacts the infrastructure to the town, and issues such as transport and flood management.
Environmental sustainability has to be at the heart of the building plan. From the outset, buildings should be orientated to maximise solar power, and high levels of insulation as well as low levels of air leakage should be planned in to increase the efficiency of the buildings. Environmental sustainability is more about those small design decisions than “eco-bling” such as windmills and solar panels.
At the end of the design process, later this year we will see a comprehensive and approved Design Code that establishes design details, on subjects ranging from townscape to landscape; from transport plans to materials, thereby ensuring whatever is designed is informed by all that surrounds it and that whatever is built is delivered as per the original intentions.