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Help! Starfish needs your support.

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On 26 Apr 2015 at 5:03pm Steve wrote:
The Starfish music project needs support the support of Lewes.
For 15 years we have been providing a safe, positive & motivating environment enabling young people to compose, rehearse,record and perform the music they want to play.
The South Downs National Park Authority (SDNP) has the FINAL SAY in any planning application for the Phoenix and they have the power to reject or recommend any changes to the plan.
They are currently open to comment from the general public.
ALL comments will be taken in to account.
please send your comments to:
tim.bettany-simmons@southdowns.gov.uk
(quoting Ref. SDNP/15/01146/FUL)
We think that the SDNP should consider any impact that it would have on youth provision if we are unable to find a new home.
SDNP should insist on written guarantees that any development plans seriously take in to consideration the value of our Lewes based community projects and organisations
South Downs National Park has a responsibility to ‘foster the economic and social well-being of the community within’ (Duty of National Park Environment Act 1995).
What we would like you to do?
We need your help to convince South Downs National Park Authority that they should help protect and nurture community organisations like Starfish.
We need your support to write or email and say why Starfish is important to the Town and the young people from the Lewes District.
Register your concerns to the South Downs National Park by 30th April
or by post to
Tim Bettany-Simmons,
South Downs Centre,
North St,
Midhurst,
West Sussex
GU29 9DH.

Check it out here »
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On 26 Apr 2015 at 9:39pm worried wrote:
I've never heard of your organisation , it sounds interesting . Are you currently using premises on th phoenix estate ? . Can I ask where you were based before ? . I thought that there were some community space arrangements in Santons plan , surely such a worthwhile project would be viewed favourably . Are you a charity and do you currently pay rent as I know there are a number of landlords on the estate sub letting studios / workshops ( for profit ) . I've also read on this forum that the redevelopment of the St Annes site will have community space , maybe that might be an option . I wish you luck .
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On 26 Apr 2015 at 9:48pm local wrote:
Starfish is a youth music group which both of my kids have attended. They're fantastic. While I'm generally in favour of the redevelopment of the Phoenix site this in one group that really deserves a home.
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On 26 Apr 2015 at 10:18pm Sophie wrote:
Starfish is an extremely important part of the Lewes community... The staff work their butts off to provide youths with a caring, supportive, safe and creative environment. They are 100% dedicated and committed to starfish and the kids involved. It would be a tragedy if this place were closed down. It's not just about making music, it's also about making kids feel valued.
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On 26 Apr 2015 at 10:20pm belladonna wrote:
Starfish are brilliant and a Lewes institution. I urge everyone who cares about this ciommunity service to register their objection to the plan. (I have already sent my comments to the plan).
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On 26 Apr 2015 at 10:22pm Sophie wrote:
I for one will be sending an email to Tim Bettany Simmons.
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On 26 Apr 2015 at 10:35pm Justdontgetit wrote:
How anyone can click the 'thumbs down' icon totally baffles me...
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On 27 Apr 2015 at 4:01am Realist wrote:
Maybe representatives of Santon and SDNPA read this forum?
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On 27 Apr 2015 at 6:00am Steve wrote:
@Worried -I will try and answer your questions
We have been on the Phoenix for three years. Previous to that we were firstly the YMCA Westgate St and then for several years based in Priory School music block.
Since it began the project was under the umbrella of the East Sussex CC Youth Development Service. Three years ago, due to the cuts, Starfish lost it all funding. Faced with closure we made the decision to find somewhere where the project could generate commercial revenue to continue without the need for core funding from central or local government.
We are a Community Interest Company - a status that recognises that our business contributes to the community.We have built 5 sound treated rehearsal rooms and a recording studio that is hired out when the project is closed + we hire sound systems and lighting. This, plus our fundraising concerts, donations and some small local government grants have enabled us to keep the project going.
We do pay rent and last year paid over £4,000 in business rates - slightly frustrating when a project struggling to survive that used to be funded by local government is now paying back into local government.
This appeal is not about housing or any many issues that arise from this development - on that I have my own personal views. This is solely to do with commitments made by the developers in the consultations and The SDNP duty to ‘foster the economic and social well-being of the community within’ (Duty of National Park Environment Act 1995).
In the consultation documents the developers (Santon AND Lewes District council) recognised the value of the Phoenix based community projects and organisations and indicated they would be included in the plans or helped to migrate.
The reason the Starfish is appealing to the Lewes community is the plans for the redevelopment are very vague as to the fate of community based organisations. There seems to be no mention of who might stay or a coherent strategy to enable smooth migration.
The only thing I can find in the plans is the indication/suggestion of moving to Newhaven, St Johns Sub Castro, Lewes Little Theatre and Lewes FC. Our business model dictates that we have to be able to open 7 days a week and evening rehearsals finish at 11pm. Unfortunately none of these sites for various reasons including location, noise, space and amount of usage are suitable at this time. Indeed three of the venues are not even in the planning stages. Malling Industrial Estate could be an option but would be too expensive (the higher the rent the higher the business rates)
.
Starfish has 135 members and 10 music students attend each week, if you add that to the numbers that go to Skatehouse, art and craft workshops and dance classes you have literally hundreds of young people participating in positive activities on the Phoenix Estate.
For a town that prides itself on the arts and music the loss of projects like Starfish would be devastating not only in creative youth provision but also to the loss of cultural & social cohesion.
I am simply asking those Lewes residents that care about young people, youth provision and our community to write or email tim.bettany-simmons@southdowns.gov.uk
(quoting Ref. SDNP/15/01146/FUL) to reject the plan unless the developers take community organisations like Starfish into consideration.
You can find out more about Starfish @ www.starfishlewes.co.uk/.
A bit long but I hope I have answered all your questions.
Regards Steve
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On 27 Apr 2015 at 8:13am Priory school alumnus wrote:
So you had to leave Priory School facilities? Driven out by local council bureaucrats no doubt. When I went to a LCGSFB reunion a few years ago I saw a refurbished building with apparently little use and a stairlift to the Gym !!! . I also understand that the building cannot be demolished because of some listing or other. While I was there in the 60's there were three lads who were musicians and are now well known .Tom Morley, Pete Thomas, and wreckless Eric Goulden. How times have changed in Lewes (I don't live in the town ) First the industry goes then the art. All that grows in the 21st. Century is Bureaucracy !. Will the council not let you use the half empty Mountfield road building. Perhaps they view Art as they do Football . I remember the Brighton Stadium fiasco
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On 27 Apr 2015 at 1:27pm Support Starfish wrote:
A planning response could be to comment/object that the North Street Industrial Area has a specific existing planning use. It provides working space for employment, business and community facilities. A redevelopment must retain this existing use, even if housing is added. If such spaces are not defended and retained we simply end up with a town full of very expensive housing. This is exactly what has happened to the High St. A policy was created in the 1970's enabling business use for shops to be reversed to housing . We ended up with fewer shops, higher business rates for the ones that are left, and more traffic movement from the top end of town without shops to the bottom. Starfish and other types of facilities, businesses and enterprises need somewhere to exist in a commercially viable way, and if this is not being achieved then we deserve better. Good planners/architects/investors find solutions. Bad Councils fail to demand best quality for their taxpayers. This is a wealthy town that can command high property values, so the developers can afford to devote more of their profit margin on ensuring that schemes like Starfish have a long healthy future.
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On 27 Apr 2015 at 2:36pm Steve wrote:
@Justdontgetit - I don't get it either but perhaps the individuals might like to enlighten us.
@Priory school alumnus. The Town & District Councils & East Sussex CC have always supported the project the best they can. Services like youth provision are not a statutory obligation and faced with cuts there is little option for Local Government Organisations. With regards to the half empty building - I don't know about that but again want to again reiterate that it should be the developers to profit responsibly and the SDNP to protect the interest of people, land and culture under their watch.
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On 27 Apr 2015 at 6:49pm Sam wrote:
Steve,
Malling Industrial Estate is just that a light industrial estate. In the Town plan for many years . work time 8am to 6pm Saturdays
8am to 1pm no Sunday or bank holiday work.
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On 27 Apr 2015 at 7:17pm newhaven wrote:
What about setting up in my town. Newhaven is much cheaper in rent and rates and we really would welcome projects like this there is very little on offer currently. Please come here instead we hold out open arms to you!!!
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On 27 Apr 2015 at 7:20pm worried wrote:
@Steve Thank you for explaining what and how you do what you do very clearly . It certainly sounds very worthwhile and beneficial to the young of lewes . Any project where people give their time and energy free for the benefit of others must always be commended . My and other people's concerns about the Phoenix are the general state of the place and the disregard to convention that is apparent when passing by there . If the very worthwhile business / groups that occupy the area want to show us "outsiders" why we should get on board and support you all, then help yourselves by maybe tidying your surroundings , move all the tatty buses and caravans that litter the place . Maybe consider showing us that parts of it aren't just one giant squat , despite denials on this forum their are many people living illegally on the estate . These do nothing to sway the opinions of straight laced boring people like me , who by the way is from Lewes ,work in Lewes but cannot afford to live here but also dont consider it a right to be able to .I do genuinely wish you luck in securing premises to continue your good work .
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On 27 Apr 2015 at 10:20pm Border Control wrote:
good posting worried. Even a slum can be turned into a Castle, but a Castle can also become a slum. Applies perfectly to The Phoenix.
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On 27 Apr 2015 at 10:26pm Here is the problem wrote:
The problem you have that will stop many Lewes people (Loosest sense of the word as most are from 60 miles north) wanting to help you is because they associate the Phoenix area as 'That place over the river from Tesco that houses van living pikey/traveller/hippy/freeloaders' that are an eyesore slap bang in the middle of town. Maybe if you all got together and did a big tidy up and were more presentable, you might just get the help you need. If your response to this is 'But they are nothing to do with us as we are down the other end, you'll probably get nowhere. That tatty old yellow canoe in the river actually p155es me off.
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On 27 Apr 2015 at 10:49pm Dyna Mo. wrote:
Art is seldom tidy,Mr Phillistine.
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On 28 Apr 2015 at 12:51am Steve wrote:
@worried.No problem. Starfish workers (including myself) don’t give up our time for free. Starfish employs 1 full time worker, 3 part time workers (including 2 trained youth workers and a qualified teacher) as well as 10 older ‘senior’ members to help with our juniors. We are registered at Company House and if you look at our accounts the total wage bill for last year was around £25,000 - that is what I alone used to be paid as an experienced youth worker responsibility of supervising 6 youth workers.
I resigned from the youth service because when Starfish faced closure I believed it was too good a project to just disappear.I know of nowhere in England where a town is so creative and musical and it is one of the reasons Starfish has been able to be so successful for so many years. Starfish sessions are a mixture of empowerment, informal learning, negotiations, creativity, social interaction and of course fantastic music. As you may of gathered I have a passion for music and a passion for working with and supporting young people. Personally Starfish is the perfect way to earning a living as well as contributing to society - well worth the pay cut (hopefully which will continue to improve if we are able to continue).
We do rely heavily on the help of parents, friends and local business & organisations who support the concerts & events, help guide project and fundraise - but this is a good thing because it helps to knit our community.
My posts are all about ensuring SDNP insisting youth provision and community projects are firmly embedded in the plan and help with a exit strategy for those who will not be able to stay on site. The presented plans do not state specifically what will happen to groups like Starfish - just a vague indication that we might be rehoused (as stated above). The developers might well have a such a plan - if so we need to see it in writing. SDNP have the power to insist that this happens or reject the plan.
Comments regarding the rest of the site are not my issue on this particular thread except to say in my experience the Phoenix is a friendly community that includes many ‘normal’ business.
As far as I am aware it is not the present occupiers who ran down the estate it was the previous landlord. Un-maintained buildings that no longer were in a state to carry out the job they were built for were transformed into a hub of creative and artistic brilliance…. and it generates income/social cohesion/well being for the Town. I’m thinking responsible regeneration, baby & bathwater.
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On 28 Apr 2015 at 1:44am Steve wrote:
@Border Patrol
Your comment is a separate issue. I am not talking about how something looks. The most probable outcome is the site will be redeveloped and whoever develops it should do so responsibly.
Happy to help.
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On 28 Apr 2015 at 8:47am Merlin Milner wrote:
Well said Steve. You have my support, give me a bell.
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On 28 Apr 2015 at 5:49pm Supporter wrote:
Merlin - why don't you call Steve? I'm sure his details are in the public domain as much as yours.
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On 28 Apr 2015 at 5:58pm Merlin Milner wrote:
I have his number already thanks. I will call him or vica versa. Not sure why have received 3 thumbs down though. Oh well.
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On 28 Apr 2015 at 6:53pm Sophie wrote:
@Merlin. The thumbs down trolls...gotta love 'em, eh?! Brainless idiots...or as Realist suggested, maybe Santon are trolling this forum?! I emailed my support to Tim Bettany-Simmons. *now awaiting the predictable thumbs down on the 'lewes' forum*
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On 28 Apr 2015 at 10:04pm newhaven wrote:
Or perhaps they are just regular people that don't agree with your point of view! Is that so hard to believe.
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On 28 Apr 2015 at 10:57pm Sophie wrote:
Yes actually, it is. Especially as this thread is about supporting a youth group who wholeheartedly supports the young people of Lewes. How can that be so awful...?
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On 29 Apr 2015 at 12:16pm Steve wrote:
@Merlin Thanks & will be in touch.
@Sophie Thanks for your comments & support.
@Newhaven - You are absolutely right but I think the point Merlin & Sophie were trying to make is why some people would 'unlike' the idea of protecting youth provision. The fact that not one post has challenged my argument speaks far more than an anonymous tick.
BTW Starfish set up and for several years ran the successful 'Union of music' project in Peacehaven. We had to close it because of the cuts - as much as we tried we could not create the same business model that would enable it continue without the need for core funding from local government. If you (or anyone reading this) thinks Newhaven has the need for something like the Starfish project then we would be happy to help and advise - we have done the same thing for several youth organisation across the south east.

Representations have to be in by THIS Thurs 30th April. email tim.bettany-simmons@southdowns.gov.uk
(quoting Ref. SDNP/15/01146/FUL
Thanks to those that will/have emailed,
Regards Steve & Starfish
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On 29 Apr 2015 at 1:01pm SouthStreeter wrote:
Interestingly I was canvassed recently to email the SDNP in support of the Santon plans . I was happy to agree to and apparently they have a lot of support . I hope you manage to continue your business either on the new development or somewhere else nearby.
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On 29 Apr 2015 at 5:24pm Tom Bigdigit wrote:
Can I have some thumbs down please. I love them. Stop wasting them on these do gooders. Cheers
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On 29 Apr 2015 at 6:15pm steve wrote:
@Southstreeter I am a Lewes resident and I have not been 'canvassed' you lucky person . Do you mean the consultations? Lots of people want the site redeveloped but, with respect, that is not the issue of this particular thread. Thank you for your kind words at the end of your post.
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On 30 Apr 2015 at 12:34am newhaven wrote:
Lewes is not the only place on earth it is a shame that you don't have sufficient funding to afford rents in the very sought after affluent centre of lewes town so why are you not pursuing an area like newhaven where your charity may be able to afford to exist? Is it because you feel that a more favourable class of people exist in lewes or some other reason? Personally I believe that newhaven and peace haven are areas that would welcome a charity such as yours but you are only interested in the lewes demographic? So I see you are in a catch 22 situation?
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On 30 Apr 2015 at 12:37am newhaven wrote:
I unlike because people seem to setup a charity in one of the most expensive places in sussex then complain that costs are too high. Makes no sense to me.
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On 30 Apr 2015 at 12:07pm Steve wrote:
@Newhaven I believe you might be trolling mainly because I have already answered all of your comments in the posts above - but will bite the hook and try again.I apologise if I have been mistaken.
Firstly I totally agree Lewes is not the only place on Earth but it's a great place to live and work (and play - my band is at the Lamb on Saturday - pop in!).

I state again the reason for starting this thread is that I am very concerned that there is nothing in the NSQ planning application regarding the fate of youth projects and community organisations.
Why should that bother me? Because in the consultations the developers sold Lewes the idea that there would be a strategy and a plan for such groups - the actual planning application points a vague finger in the direction of premises some of which are barely ideas and may never be built.
The point being - If it is not in the planning documents then it might never happen. Should it happen? For me, yes because I believe it is unethical and irresponsible to make large profits without taking into consideration the value of what already exists and the effect it has on the whole of the Lewes community and beyond.
As stated earlier Santon & LDC may well have a plan - if so it should be no problem to include it in planning document or at the very least inform those affected. I would argue the same case regardless if it was Santon & LDC, LPR or Bob the Builder.

To clear some things up - Starfish was started by the former Lewes District Youth Service 15 years ago and then it became part of the East Sussex County Council's Youth Development Service (as stated in a post above).
The project has never been a Charity; after losing our funding we applied to be a Community Interest Company (as stated in a post above).
We are able to pay our rent at the present time as our studios are not in the affluent centre of Lewes. It might be in the future but for now it's considerably cheaper that most of the Industrial estates round here.
Why it's so cheap - you will have to ask that to the landlord but we are grateful because it has allowed us the opportunity to set up without individuals going bankrupt and taken to court just for trying to save a music project... and guess what?.... it's working!
Thank you Santon!
I believe (and so do you by the tone of your post) that good youth provision is important for all young people giving them 'somewhere safe to go & something to do'. It also it benefits the wider community like a pebble in a pond. This applies to Lewes as it does Newhaven.
I absolutely agree with you that it’s a shame youth clubs and projects like Starfish no longer receive funding and many have to close or operate on reduced hours.
Starfish was/is able to survive because it was already an established project that had the trust and the support of the town.
We were able to build our studios not with bank loans or grants but with the contributions of our young members, parents and supporters through things like concerts, events, donations & busking and of course our team of dedicated workers.
Starfish is a unique model of how, despite the odds, a music youth club can survive and grow.
The project was founded by young Lewesians, the equipment fundraised by young Lewesians and continues because of young Lewesians - the project for many reasons (one being legal) can’t and will not be moving to Newhaven.
Your comment about ‘a more favourable class of people’ gave me flashbacks to that Two Ronnies sketch . If you think Lewes is more ‘favourable’ than Newhaven then that is your personal opinion - if you are talking about the young people I work with then I can only reassure you our membership is very inclusive and diverse.
We have always tried to keep the membership subs as low as possible allowing it to be affordable to most young people. We have no auditions and welcome any young person no matter what their background or circumstances are.
Starfish is not exclusive to Lewes, we have members from across the district including most of the local villages, Seaford and you will be pleased to know Newhaven!
As I mentioned we are more than happy to help and advise anyone prepared to put in the energy to create something similar in Newhaven.
When Starfish was funded we were able to deliver outreach workshops across the district including at Tideway (now Seahaven), The Foyer and NCDA and (as I said earlier) set up and ran the 'Union of Music' project in Peacehaven. I worked at the JOFF in Peacehaven for several years and I know good people who work hard for the benefit of Newhaven, Seaford and Peacehaven and fully understand and support the urgent need for more youth provision in the coastal towns.
I hope I have answered your comments & concerns-maybe not so many next time - my fingers ache. Regards Steve
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On 30 Apr 2015 at 12:28pm Private 76456 wrote:
I don't read long posts....I glaze over at the sight of them...


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