The creation of a riverside walk and natural open space could restore natural habitats as well as opportunities for the local flora and fauna. This will help enhance the natural beauty, wildlife and cultural heritage of the town as well as the National Park, whilst promoting opportunities for the public to enjoy these special qualities.
We will not merely preserve, but will strive to improve the ecological footprint by linking the ecological corridors through the town, along the River and beyond.
By integrating environmental sustainability from the start of the development process, we can integrate low tech, high impact solutions from the outset. We can orientate housing and streets to create warm and intimate moments, whilst optimizing solar gain – and create tree-lined streets to deliver passive cooling when needed, in the (rare!) hot summer.
Santon’s philosophy for improved sustainability is simply “use less first”: high levels of insulation, green roofs, minimised air leakage, all of which increase the efficiency of the buildings and reduce the need for bolt-on “eco-bling” such as wind power or solar panels. This all helps to achieve an environmentally sustainable place.
In terms of sustainability, the Joint Core Strategy reinforces the need to make the best use of underused developed land, before looking at other undeveloped areas to meet the town’s growing needs.
We can increase sustainability by designing homes and offices that reduce the need for travel, thereby promoting and supporting a sustainable system of public transport. This can be complimented by a sustainable mix of land use for people who live, work, study here, as well as for those who visit the town.
Making it easier to walk rather than drive will be key to the design principles of the development, ensuring street design will provide good sight lines and pleasant environments for those who walk, rather than prioritising vehicles.
Connectivity with the town and countryside and accessibility via public transport can encourage green modes of travel. High speed internet connections and the ability to work from home, or within suitable public spaces, can also lead to fewer journeys even if of a green mode.
The North Street Quarter site at present does not alleviate or reduce the risk of flooding, so this site and the adjoining areas remain at risk of flooding due to the lack of sufficient flood defence. This creates an area of decline, which prevents investment due to lack of viable funding and insurance.
Above Lewes, the River Ouse 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.
Significant efforts and works have been completed to improve slowdown of flow rates upstream from Lewes, in addition to work continuing to encourage the management of the undeveloped land/arable acres/woodlands in a way sensitive towards rainfall run-off. This management can significantly affect the rate of flow and volumes of water reaching Lewes.
Whether or not Lewes suffers flooding in the long term relies on retention of functional floodplains to the North in the Ouse catchment effectively slowing down flow rates/arrival times.
The state of the tide, acting as a two way valve in Lewes, will also always be a factor in how quickly rainfall can be discharged to the sea.
Therefore, it is vital that works protecting the low-lying remaining flood cells are carried out to ensure that rainfall is discharged as quickly as possible, so these volumes are not part of the surface water when any flows arrive from upstream. This will be of benefit not only to the subject site but also to other surrounding areas.
In physical terms the construction of flood defences on the eastern side of the Ouse in Malling Fields has set the standard. This delivers the strategy prepared by the Environment Agency, to create defensive cells next to the river. As you will be aware, this is partly completed, and the NSQ site is the last piece of that jigsaw.
However, we acknowledge that defence is only part of the issue. Mitigation is also needed. Measures that will improve drainage or evaporation, in order to reduce water flows generated by rainfall, include the use of green roofs and SUDS (sustainable urban drainage systems). These not only help prevent flooding but bring many other added benefits, such as improved insulation, increased biodiversity and by bringing ecology into landscaping – using Nature to mitigate the damage it can cause.