North Street Quarter is arguably the most important development area in Lewes. It lies next to the river, to the north of Phoenix Causeway, opposite Tesco, and it is less than 5 minutes from the High Street. The bulk of the site is the former Phoenix Industrial Estate.
We’re Santon, owners of the site. These pages will tell you a little about the place and how we’re planning to revive it as a new area of Lewes, making improved connections so this large underused area can make a real contribution to the town.
Lewes is made by the river.
The town sits in a gap in the South Downs where the River Ouse carves through. North above Lewes the river catchment extends to Slaugham and Sheffield Park in the north-west, as well as the upper Ashdown Forest that slopes towards Crowborough in the north-east. Below the town, the sea and the port at Newhaven were once essential access routes to Normandy.
North Street Quarter is at a crucial point in the river’s journey through the town. Previous industrial uses have closed off the riverbank but now there is an opportunity to open up both access and views to the other side of the river and to the Downs.
Lewes has always had a strong community spirit. Lewes life has been close, and talkative, and social. This sense of community is shown by the plethora of local voluntary bodies and discussion forums. The physical space is enhanced by the active use of the gardens and other shared green spaces that sit within the public domain but are clearly inhabited by individuals.
Lewes is a town for visitors, for shopping and for leisure – but it is also a town that takes its pleasure locally. Debating societies, friends groups, arts clubs. The town and its people are conscious of their differences from Brighton & Hove, and from Eastbourne. There is something about Lewes that makes it naturally the home of the Headstrong Club and the Bonfire Societies.
Walking down the High Street from County Hall, no one house or shop is like another. A crowd of architectural styles from five hundred years of development makes Lewes a town of individual buildings, not grand uniform colonnades.
Farther out in the town lie 18th century terraces and the large Edwardian villas of the Wallands estates and modern building. The prosperity of the town creates – and conceals – significant local needs for housing, particularly for the elderly and for families. The new local plan (the core strategy), talks about the town’s need for housing.
Any development must address the local demand, enhance the sense of place within Lewes and add its chapter to the historic evolution of Lewes’ housing stock.