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Alternative proposal for Lewes Phoenix/North Strt

On 8 May 2014 at 12:42pm Deelite 2 wrote:
If you would like to add your name in support of this proposal and receive further information please email us, including your name and status (Lewes resident, business owner etc):


The proposal below is for a community-led acquisition of a parcel of land within the Phoenix/North Street development area, for the purpose of building genuinely affordable innovative new homes, live/work space and maintaining and enhancing the industrial and creative quarter at the heart of Lewes.

The proposal is gathering momentum and is being discussed with Lewes District Council, the South Downs National Park Authority (SDNPA) planning department, Santon (the developer) and our MP. We believe there is a window of opportunity if we act fast. We are looking at funding possibilities to create a masterplan for the development and a business plan to see it through. The masterplan will be led by us, the users of the site and local residents, with expert input from community planners and architects.

We will submit this plan to the SDNPA in parallel with Santon’s outline planning application, to illustrate the type of development Lewes wants and needs.

In order to keep the proposal ‘live’, it is being amended according to your responses and to clarify our vision. So do read it again to check that it still is what you want. The more signatories we get, the more traction we will have, so please circulate it widely. If you would like to add your name to this proposal please email:



It is our view (see undersigned) that Santon’s emerging plans for the development of the Phoenix Estate are not based on a genuine vision for this new community in the town and do not sufficiently satisfy the community benefit requirements of the people of Lewes. The proposed new development displaces industry, limits social and economic diversity through the loss of creative and community enterprises and does not provide sufficient genuinely affordable housing for local people. We are also concerned by the impact of additional traffic on surrounding parts of the town and flood defences that have yet to satisfy local residents. Nor do we consider that the plans take into account the need for innovative and sustainable new build that meets a high architectural and environmental design standard, that complements the historic town of Lewes.

We therefore propose to acquire and develop a portion of the land within the development area, to be funded, built and managed by the community, for the community. This will be a not-for-profit development that provides homes for local people (for rental at the level of housing benefit) and which creates and adapts affordable work space for creative and light industries and social enterprises.

We propose a landmark development that is worthy of the South Downs National Park (SDNPA) and the historic town of Lewes (a transition town). The development would showcase the best elements of community driven planning and environmentally sustainable construction and development, creating an exemplary scheme of which the town and National Park can be proud.

There are a number of Community Interest Companies that can provide potentially the management and development vehicle for this scheme, in partnership with local housing and energy providers, funded by a share issue, social investment and section 106 contributions. We propose to work alongside Lewes District Council, Santon and other landowners in the development area to form a ‘Joint Venture’. This would leave Santon to pursue the commercial elements of the scheme and some affordable housing, once the Joint Venture has secured outline planning consent from the SDNPA.


The area around the Phoenix Wharf on the river Ouse has been a centre for industry and manufacturing in Lewes for many years and as such it has played an integral part in our local history and provided generations of Lewes residents with homes and jobs. More recently the old Phoenix Ironworks has been converted into workshops for light industry and studios for the creative industries as well as popular venues for community activity of all ages. As such it is a vibrant area with an important economic, educational and recreational function.

Notwithstanding these positive attributes, the community accepts that the area is in need of regeneration and that there is a pressing need to provide new and affordable housing for people in Lewes.


We believe a golden opportunity exists to create a ‘living machine’; a landmark sustainable development providing:

* genuinely affordable homes
* building structures that can be internally adapted by the occupants for live/work space
* a visually innovative and inspirational creative, industrial and social quarter

We plan to raise the funds to acquire and develop the triangle of land immediately to the right of North Street as you enter the Phoenix Estate, which is between the river, Phoenix Causeway and North Street. Within this parcel (about 30% of the total development area) are the bulk of the creative industry workshops, some light industry and social enterprises and the remaining heritage features and facades of the Phoenix Iron Works. With rationalisation and infill, there is space enough to accommodate outlying workshops and enterprises, create new work space, build adaptable live/work structures and a proportion of LDC’s affordable housing commitments.

Our development will be a beacon of:

Economic sustainability: By ensuring that the site generates genuinely affordable homes and jobs for local people and keeps the manufacturing, creative and social ‘engine room’ at the heart of Lewes, we will be boosting the local economy through employment, leisure and tourism.
Environmental sustainability: We will completely rethink the approach to the site and how it works. We propose an holistic approach to the river, drainage, the generation of power and the use of local materials to create a new model of sustainable development that befits Lewes, “The Gateway to the South Downs National Park.”
Social sustainability: We know that the lack of affordable homes and work spaces are driving people and businesses out of our town. We are very concerned that the current development will amplify this problem. By doing as we suggest and providing what people actually want in terms of living and work space, we could reverse this trend. One of the great joys of Lewes is its social diversity and its creative spirit and we intend to enhance it.

If you would like to add your name in support of this proposal and receive further information please email us, including your name and status (Lewes resident, business owner etc):


Thank you.
On 8 May 2014 at 1:16pm tom wrote:
Sound great - what exactly is 'genuinely affordable'?
To be taken seriously, have you prepared figures that explain how you can make 'genuinely affordable' housing whilst also paying for all the necessary costs? For example:-
Structural engineers, architects fees, planning application fees, all building materials, labour for construction (at minimum wage), CDM, Building Regs, modern insulation requirements... the list goes on & on.
All these costs are AFTER you've acquired the land itself!
I don't want to be negative because it would be good for Lewes but i'd like to know what 'genuinely affordable' will be! Thanks
On 8 May 2014 at 1:22pm Supporter wrote:
Currently there must be too many unknown factors to form exact projections and there is certainly not enough time! How about "as affordable as they can possibly be"?
On 8 May 2014 at 1:50pm U Cannot-be-serious wrote:
Sorry Supporter, but "as affordable as they can be" - WTF does that mean exactly? "Affordable" for which target group? A £2M home is "affordable" to some people, but not to many others....
And how do you plan to ensure the properties remain "affordable" when they are passed on to the following occupant.

It's all too vague I - lots of "trendy" buzz words like "affordable", "sustainability" and "holistic approach" that make for good reading, but that actually mean very little in terms of how/what/where these nebulous concepts will be measured or achieved.

On 8 May 2014 at 2:07pm Peasant wrote:
Problem with building social rented housing is that you have to provide the up-front cash to pay for the new houses (you can expect to get the land for free if it forms part of the Santon affordable housing requirement). For, say, 50 houses you will need about £7M. Without a clear indication of how that will be acquired, you will not be taken seriously. You might be able to find a Housing Association partner, but they, not you, would be in control.
For an alternative approach, in which you provide homes for local people to buy at a subsidised prices (say £175K for a house that would cost £250K on the market), look at the model proposed in the Ringmer Neighbourhood Plan. That does not need much up-front cash. The build cost is covered by the purchase price. Helps a different group of local people, but still comes within the affordable category.
On 8 May 2014 at 2:10pm Clifford wrote:
'Affordable' to me means what a family on the average wage could afford to pay without having to claim housing benefit. Is that what it means here Deelite2?
On 8 May 2014 at 2:30pm Peasant wrote:
Affordable housing has a technical meaning - housing provided at below market cost with the help of a public subsidy. It does not mean housing that is affordable to the potential buyer or renter. Both our last two governments have spent a great deal of effort making sure that you don't really know what their programmes mean - hence spare room subsidy (means bedroom tax) and protection of green belt (means free to build on any green fields that are not immediately around London or a couple of other big cities). There is no green belt land at all in Sussex.
On 8 May 2014 at 2:38pm tom wrote:
As well as understanding what 'genuinely affordable' is, I have 2 other questions for Deelite:-
1) What is the criteria for an individual getting 'awarded' an affordable house? i.e. X years resident in Lewes? No criminal convictions? Local employment? Low salary? Not a DFL? etc etc?
2) If the houses are cheap, will there be restrictions on re-sale values? i.e. I buy my genuinely affordable home then sell it for the market value shortly after. Unfortunately, if you make restrictions on re-sale then i fear getting a lender to agree a mortgage might be difficult.
I still don't want to be negative and hope you have answers to these genuine questions. Thanks.
On 8 May 2014 at 2:50pm Deelite 2 wrote:
I was asked to post that up. Questions should not be aimed at me personally. One of the Phoenix Rising Group will answer hopefully.

Not that I don't find the barrage of negativity a little depressing.
On 8 May 2014 at 3:37pm imogen wrote:
"Not that I don't find the barrage of negativity a little depressing".
Deelite, I don't think it's negative; I think it's a response of curiosity, and well-intentioned requests for further information
(I hope so, anyway)
On 8 May 2014 at 3:54pm Clifford wrote:
I agree Imogen. i don't think what look to me like some serious questions are 'negative'. At least it shows a bit more critical interest than a run of 'Good idea.... good idea...'
On 8 May 2014 at 5:03pm OneWhoKnows wrote:
Affordable housing doesn't usually mean affordable to buy on normal terms, you know. It either means below-market rent housing (which could include traditional social housing) or shared ownership, where you buy a share and pay a subsidised rent on the remainder.
Unfortunately land is extremely expensive in this country - and it represents most of the cost of housing, not the bricks, mortar or labour - and you can't provide "affordable" housing without government subsidy.
I've always found the term affordable a bit annoying. No developer would try to build unaffordable housing, just as no car maker would build unaffordable cars - or no supermarket would sell unaffordable bananas. Ultimately you price the house at what will sell, just as private sellers of existing homes do in Lewes.
I really fail to understand why developers are awful for providing new homes at market pricing - whereas private in dividuals, who have made a killing on their properties over the past few decades, are not in any way greedy or profit-hungry when they sell their homes at 300% or more what they brought them for. Why is no-one demanding that the property owning classes of Lewes sell their homes at "affordable" prices.
On 8 May 2014 at 5:52pm Clifford wrote:
'Why is no-one demanding that the property owning classes of Lewes sell their homes at "affordable" prices.'

Probaby because when a person sells a home because they're moving they find the price of the place they're buying has gone up about as much as the place they're selling.

I'm always fascinated by people who are very understanding about the problems businesses face but never about the probles individuals face.
On 8 May 2014 at 6:24pm Annette Curtin-Twitcher wrote:
It actually says that the affordable housing will "at the level
of housing benefit".
Housing benefit will pay up to a rent equivalent to the average of the bottom 30% of rentals in the "broad rental market area". The area in which Lewes falls includes all of Brighton and the coast from Newhaven to Shoreham.
The current ceiling at which housing benefit ceases to be payable is around £650 a month for a one-property, about £800 for 2 bedrooms and roughly £1,000 for 3 beds.
Pretty affordable imo, and cheaper than most private rentals because of the amounts are calculated.
On 8 May 2014 at 6:30pm tom wrote:
Thanks 'OneWhoKnows'...
Your definitions of 'affordable housing' match my experience, so I am intrigued to understand what 'genuinely affordable' really means.... Hopefully it means a multiple of a typical low salary, say, £16k multiplied by 4 = £64k.
My guess is this is a 'pie in the sky' proposal which is very well meaning but is unrealistic. My guess is the land alone would probably be in excess of £125k.
Time to get real and contemplate Newhaven or Hastings...
On 8 May 2014 at 7:09pm Swampy wrote:
We don't need affordable housing ( what ever that is ) in the new development, we just need some where to park our homes. That way we won't have to contribute to the rest of the community in the shape of paying council tax.
I would like to welcome the new artists who recently arrived in our community down in the Screwfix car park. Fear not my friends, this is a multiculti town and we love the Irish. I'm not sure how affordable you'll find the space on that side of the river you may find much more affordable space over here.
On 8 May 2014 at 9:28pm lewes resident wrote:
Deelite, your campaign is far too late. Why only present your ideas now! The planning app is going in this month or next so sadly your efforts are in vain.
On 8 May 2014 at 10:00pm Deelite 2 wrote:
They are not my ideas (see above). The authors of the initiative don't appear to agree with you though.
On 8 May 2014 at 10:09pm lewes resident wrote:
How many signatures do you have so far?
On 8 May 2014 at 10:12pm lewesresident2 wrote:
This land is Santon's. Are you seriously suggesting they will sell any part, let alone the heart of their development, when we are weeks away from an application and several years into the planning and design process? Who are these bodies that are so well funded that this a possibility? I would love to have seen this kind of development but this is surely fantasy.
On 9 May 2014 at 12:26am Estate Agent wrote:
Lewes is not and will never be 'affordable' to everyone. It's a desirable smart 'market' town. Mainly because it's populated by more mature citizens who have accumulated wealth, either here or elsewhere. First time buyers have to realise they must join the ladder in cheaper areas and work their way up. Just as most of the residents of Lewes have done. There is nothing wrong with aspirations, but there is with 'want it nows' it's my right !
On 9 May 2014 at 9:21am Albert Square wrote:
What you miss though, Estate Agent, is that Lewes has to have _some_ housing that caters for those on an average wage to keep essential infrastructure going even if you ignore the fact a diverse population is what makes Lewes what it is and what is has been. If Lewes doesn't cater for these people then it will lose what a lot of what makes it so popular and will gradually decline over the next 20 years. I dispute that "most" residents of Lewes have bought in cheaper areas and worked their way up too, a large number (myself included) have lived here since before it became so popular as to price out average salaried families.
It may surprise the recent influx to know that as recently as 20 years ago a couple of first time buyers with averagely paid local jobs could hope to get a decent family home. No chance of that now. All those that decry the concept of "affordable" housing need to realise it's all these "normal" people who live and work locally that have made the town what it is over many generations - the people who keep essential services going, the artists, actors and writers, the young people etc. Lewes will be poorer without them all.
On 9 May 2014 at 9:38am old timer wrote:
Young families have a right to live in their traditional community; to have to move towns is another sign of the fragmentation that is a product of greedy business and and the governments that are in their thrall.
Youthful civic pride especially when incubated in young families is what makes a town a good place to live.
family interdependence - babysitting, car of the elderly, everyday relationships between generations is essential for community health.
Why should out young people be exiled to other towns. It is just plain wrong!!
On 9 May 2014 at 9:43am lewes Lady wrote:
You are wrong, old timer. Young families have no such right, unless the entire housing market were to be state controlled. It would be nice, but it's not a god-given right. I can't afford to live near Mayfair despite my parents being born in that area. I've moved on, so should whingers on here.
On 9 May 2014 at 10:52am An Economist Writes wrote:
You're completely wrong, Lewes Lady - which is not to say that old timer's vision is viable right now. State control is absolutely not necessary to have a housing market that works to the benefit of society as a whole. Markets are regulated everywhere, either directly or indirectly. Our current housing market is dysfunctional in the sense that in many respects it is actively working to the detriment of society. That's the root cause of much of what's been expressed in this thread.
You can trace the problem back a long way, but the market was certainly given a severe steer in the 1980s, and we're paying the price for that now, as we suffer increasingly high levels of social incohesion and income equality in exchange for (now reducing) geographical and social mobility.
All of which is to say that "state control" is a straw man. On the contrary, the current housing market - which is precipitating the debates over development that we're having here - is highly ideologically structured and there many alternatives, though at the moment misinformation (such as you are peddling) and a small amount of vested interest is standing in the way of progress in implementing them.
On 9 May 2014 at 10:55am An Economist Writes wrote:
Hmm - "income inequality" was what I meant!
On 9 May 2014 at 2:19pm Weenie wrote:
I'd love to live in Belgravia, but have been priced out, seem to have accepted it now. Despite the rest of the family are still there. Life so unfair ! But they don't seem to have trouble getting domestic staff and other normal services which one needs to survive these days.
On 9 May 2014 at 3:01pm Clifford wrote:
lewes Lady wrote: 'I can't afford to live near Mayfair despite my parents being born in that area. I've moved on, so should whingers on here.'

But who is going to serve you in Waitrose if everyone who can't afford the price of Lewes houses has to move on?
On 9 May 2014 at 3:08pm Deelite 2 wrote:
Family cohesion is a mainstay for a stable society and healthy individuals. It is to the detriment of all of us that our children are forced to move away. Social cohesion is reduced, individuals become increasingly isolated. The care that the family provides is replaced by the state and the care required greater as on average isolated individuals are generally more unhealthy than those belonging to the strongest social group of all, the family.
On 9 May 2014 at 3:29pm piddinhoe piddler wrote:
the Land in not all Santons, around 30-40% is actually owned by the LDC.
On 9 May 2014 at 3:31pm ducatipete wrote:
Santon is the same developer as The Printworks. When they get their planning consent what stops them breaking the site up and selling on. They may cherry pick the best parts for themselves but one thing for sure is the affordable bit will be tucked away.
On 9 May 2014 at 4:22pm GhostBike wrote:
"It may surprise the recent influx to know that as recently as 20 years ago a couple of first time buyers with averagely paid local jobs could hope to get a decent family home."
But that is true all around the country, not just in Lewes. Where I grew up in the East Midlands in a fairly nondescript town local first time buyers can't afford the place either.
On 9 May 2014 at 4:38pm Clifford wrote:
ducatipete wrote: 'Santon is the same developer as The Printworks. When they get their planning consent what stops them breaking the site up and selling on.'

I'm sure you're right. Wasn't that also the plan of the last hopeful developer of the site, then called the 'Phoenix Quarter', Charles Style?
On 9 May 2014 at 5:03pm watchful wrote:
One thing I do know is that Santon lost any goodwill they may have held onto when they displayed their latest plans.
It was so obvious that the towns people had been conned - that they had merely ticked required consultation boxes and then produced disdainful, bog standard - and sloppily inaccurate - design.
Of course it is big business in operation but their sleight of hand was so obvious. What is not so obvious is whether Santon can be withstood....
What strange times we live in.
On 9 May 2014 at 6:21pm lewesphoenixrising wrote:
Thank you for your responses. Affordable housing is what people with lower paid jobs can afford to pay. There are a number of equations you could use here, but if we want a town that thrives by which I mean has jobs, work space, social diversity etc. and not just housing and retail, housing must be cheap enough for all to have the option to live in the middle of town. With our proposal, if we do not get enough land, Santon may well end up with an obligation to provide some 'affordable' housing, but theirs is 80% of market price (and they are not intending to do the 40% quantity of affordable housing 'desired' by the LDC). This excludes many people. Our part of the development will offer rental/housing association type accommodation and live/work space. The costs can be brought down through Section 106 contributions from the developer (% of profit), intelligent build, not-for-profit funding and simple but innovative building structures that can be internally adapted, fitted-out etc. by the occupants. This proposal is a community-led initiative - we are not prescribing anything. If you would like to be involved and help work out how to do it, join up.
On 9 May 2014 at 7:21pm Boris wrote:
Am I to assume that the affordable housing will only be offered to current Lewes residents and their off spring?
On 9 May 2014 at 9:29pm Deelite 2 wrote:
Looks like a work in progress. Why don't you sign up and contribute Boris?
On 10 May 2014 at 8:31am Deelite 2 wrote:
@watchful: Maybe they thought that as the taxpayer was committed to reimburse them for a percentage of costs once their outline proposal had been accepted they could get away with it? If this is true I hope it provides a loophole that will enable to taxpayer to refuse to fund the exercise.

This thread has reached its limit now
Why not start another one


Five Lewes Pounds 37:143
Five Lewes Pounds

It just bothers me that anyone thinks that they or the government have the right to tell me what I can put in my own body. more
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