Lewes Forum thread

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Old Baxters chestnut

 
 
On 31 Aug 2009 at 10:07pm Cinders wrote:
Yes its this old chestnut again, as i am afraid it just won't go away. Does ANYONE know how the fire brigade and the council are justifying the 'turning circle' to enable fire engines to reverse, when there are permenant permit holder parking spaces in it?
 
 
On 31 Aug 2009 at 10:28pm Interested. wrote:
Have you asked the people concerned Cinders??
 
 
On 31 Aug 2009 at 11:57pm Angry of Lewes(Retd) wrote:
HA HA HA - PMSL - yes a turning circle for FIRE ENGINES - might as well be a launching pad for a space shuttle for all the use it is - FIRE ENGINES CANNOT GET INTO THE LANE - the brigade were NOT consulted at the initial planning stage - an appliance cannot get in at the top because of the War Memorial and at the bottom the Lane is too narrow Turning cirlce for Fire Engines - Like building a helicopter landing pad IN YOUR BASEMENT - HA HA HA
 
 
On 1 Sep 2009 at 7:40am sashimi wrote:
The planning committee were persuaded to approve the Printworks scheme when they were told that there would be sprinklers in the buildings to put any fires out. But there are none. Residents have been told by the fire safety officer that the fire doors on the flats will contain a fire in a flat or prevent one from entering from outside for an hour. But the doors have a half inch gap. I've seen one letter from the MD of Raven Group to Norman Baker who wrote on behalf of a resident that was profoundly offensive (to NB) and illiterate. The building itself is falling apart. It's time that the Council took matters in hand and sorted this mess out. It's not all their fault. But it is their responsibility to deal with it.
 
 
On 1 Sep 2009 at 9:06am Old Ted wrote:
What's the legal position? If a planning authority gives planning permission in these dubious circumstances are the councillors who made the decision liable for any damage and injury that may follow?
 
 
On 1 Sep 2009 at 11:40am Geoff wrote:
apparently there are still major ongoing problems with this crappily planned and built building. I understand that the explaination for the turning circle and parking spaces 'sharing scheme' is that our local authority is claiming that its OK because technically the wording in the legislation does not specify that the turning circle needs to be clear at all times. This is possibly one of the most ludicrous, and worst attempts at trying to absolve oneself of responsibility for a cock up i have come across. We are supposed to believe that this arrangement is OK, because any fire will only occurr when drivers have not parked in the spaces, or are cionveniently nearby, can be contacted, and can move their cars.
Oh, and we were pormised sprinklers, or other fire saftey measures to mitigate the access problems. I understand there are no sprinklers, so what exactly was provided to meet legal requirements? A prayer mat?
 
 
On 1 Sep 2009 at 11:44am Geoff again wrote:
Incidentally, the fire door issue occurred recently in some flats renovated in Brighton, by the Council. (about a month ago) As far as i know it is being sorted out as a matter of urgency by Brighton Council, becuase they should not have approved, or permitted the work to remain.
So can we look forward to some swift action by LDC? Hopefully it will be as swift as there incorrect advise at the original planning meeting to gloss over the issue, and incorrectly claim it wasn't a planning issue.
 
 
On 1 Sep 2009 at 12:02pm Gloria mundi wrote:
Geoff, I think the fire regs are that the footprint of the building must not be more than 30m from the access point for the fire engine and for this type of engine, the building mustn't be over 11m high. The engine got down St Nicholas' Lane with 1cm to spare, so that box is ticked. If any vehicle is parked in the way, I guess they will just remove it. The engines carry hoses 45m long and in theory this allows them access to any part of the building. The turning circle is required so the fire engine can get out again. So, ludicrous though it may sound, I think they are probably OK on that point.
The dodgy issue now is on the Walwers Lane affordable housing site next door. Special permission was given for a 60m footprint limit based on a 90m hose (2 x 45m) length. But the engines that will attend only carry 1 x 45m hose. This may not matter because like the third class passengers on the Titanic this housing is for undeserving poor who are unlikely to complain and who should think themselves lucky to be housed at all.
 
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On 1 Sep 2009 at 12:34pm The Bstard wrote:
You could always just move Geoff?! If you could find some DFL mug to buy the flat off you that is!
 
 
On 1 Sep 2009 at 1:54pm Geoff wrote:
Mr B'stard. Why do you think I would want to live in this mess?
Gloria, you are correct about 45m hoses.ESCC fire authority are not allowed to rely on moving a vehicle themselves, so have come up with an explaination that 'they will ask the owners to move them' They have not explained how that will be achieved. Also. How many fire engines are required to put out a fire. I counted 5 when the roof of the restauanr next to seasons caught fire. Including one of those ones with stabilisers needed to get above a building. Do these fit down St Nicholas lane?
But this is all detail. the fundemental mistake was that this should all have been discussed by lindsay frost's inept department, and ESCC. Sadly neither authority understand that access to the lane is a material planning consideration that should have been looked at in detail by planning commitee. Instead, LDC wrongly told the commitee that it was not.
We are now left with no sprinklers, apparently ineffective fire doors, an entrance that is only accessible to a carefully driven appliance breaching prescribed regulations, and a l;egally required turning circle that cannot be relied upon to be clear.
We can be given post hoc excuses for this mess untill the cows come home, but the bottom line is that it is a tiotal cock up, and I understand that now, even lawyers are involved.
(oh, and I didn't mention the rubbish drainage, cracked render, and all the other snags with this crappy buiulding)
Walwers lane, God help us.
 
 
On 1 Sep 2009 at 4:52pm sashimi wrote:
OK, Geoff, so what happens next? If, as you say, rules have been broken who or what is the equivalent of the Independent Police Complaints Authority to investigate further and decide what action to take if any? The local government ombudsman is completely useless, I gather from a recent report. The police? The District Auditor? Government Office of the South East? Health and Safety? The bloke I went to see in the Printworks has had 47 people in to try to fix all the things wrong with his otherwise extremely nice flat. The developer wasn't cooperating and Zurich who insure the defects in the building for the 10 year guarantee period were trying to duck out of responsibility for putting things right if the developer defaults.
Guarantees that mean nothing, meaningless underwriting, inspectors signing off patently unfit work, jobsworths coming up with enough boxes to tick to justify what commonsense would tell anyone was absurd. Pontius Pilate springs to mind. So what can we do?
 
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On 1 Sep 2009 at 6:25pm Annette Curtin-Twitcher wrote:
"our local authority is claiming that its OK because technically the wording in the legislation does not specify that the turning circle needs to be clear at all times"
Pmsl! You couldn't make it it up, could you?
If we had a half decent local paper, this scandal would have at least made the press. Could the Sussex Express' lack of interest have anything to do with the revenue they get from advertising these jerry-built white elephants?
 
 
On 2 Sep 2009 at 6:37am Poorbuildyes wrote:
Gloria - I am a resident at the printworks. Granted it is a poor build, but for you to comment on the quality of resident is disgusting. Alot of us that live here are key workers - Teachers, police, nurses etc. How dare you describe us as undeserving poor lucky to be housed at all! Get off your high horse love, actually forget that just get a life!
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On 2 Sep 2009 at 9:08am Station Street Resident wrote:
Think you will find that Gloria was referring to the proposals in the Lewes House site when she made her tongue-in-cheek comment about the "undeserving poor".
But keeping on the subject of the Printworks, there are a couple of flats that have been occupied that are lowering the tone of the conservation area - both face onto Walwers Lane.
The first seems to be inhabited by half a dozen adolescents who have to play loud music and hang out of the windows to get a reception on their mobiles; the second property continually hangs their washing out on the balcony which makes the area look really cheap and nasty.

In addition to the poor build, it's not surprising that they are having a problem selling the units with such apparently uncouth residents already occupying some of them!
 
 
On 2 Sep 2009 at 9:18am Geoff wrote:
Hi Sashimi. If this wasn't a rotten borough I would suggest writing a helpful letter to the council asking that they enforce the conditions in the planning application. I would then ask our officers, whose salaries we pay to take it on the chin, and acknowledge the mistake in failing to incude the material consideration of fire access in the planning application, and ask how they are going to remedy that error to reassure me that lessons have been learnt. (rather tricky that one) As I am not a Councillor, I suggest asking the Lead member for planning what he intends to do to. Sadly I don't think Cllr Peter Gardiner has a clue about what is going on, and would rather indulge in schmoozing round the Council circuit, and pampering the sensitivities of officers than doing the hard grubby intellectual work of representing his actual electorate.
Unfortunately it has become apparent that the only way to get any response from our Council is to embarass them into action, so i would give the Argus a call (not the lazy Express) and ask them to do a story. Some pictures of the cracked render, interior shots of whatever is wrong inside and cars parked in the turning circle should help.
I feel very sorry for residents of the building, who should perhaps be asking why they were sold a property approved by an insurance company who clearly shouldn't have approved dodgy fire doors and cracked render, since both could result in insurance claims. I certainly think that whichever body regulates Zurich as an independant Building Control provider should be asked to look at what has been approved. I would also be asking my surveyor why they did not notice large visible cracking and dodgy fire doors.
Its a shame that Cllr Gardiner, and his fellow Councillors of all political hues aren't leaping to the defence of these cheated residents as we all are. I feel that this is as much a disgrace as the shoddy building
The problem, and explaination for this absolute horror, is that too many different 'authorities' haqve been involved in a disjointed system, and instead of speaking to each other, with an understanding of the law (fire access) they have each absolved themselves of responsibility, as soon they have ticked their box. This is why Councillors should LISTEN to their electorate as well as Officers. It is what Councillors are there for, and what the Standards Board should perhaps know that they are not doing.
This building was actively promoted by LDC, yet the idea is that officers are impartial, and Councillors make the decision. Residents raised problems at the correct time in the procedure, and LDC wrongly advised Councillors to ignore them. And still are. Standards in LDC are so low, that it is hardly surprising that our local architecture reflects this shoddy mess. As historians say, design is the mirror of society.
 
 
On 2 Sep 2009 at 10:46am Ed Can Do wrote:
Poorbuildyes, that was a spectacular bit of completely missing the point of Gloria mundi's post. If I had to guess I'd say you're either a policeman and the joke went completely over your head or you're a teacher and your natural victim complex kicked in and overrode your ability to read properly.

More likely a teacher though, a policeman wouldn't use that many words of more than one syllable.
 
 
On 2 Sep 2009 at 11:39am Gloria mundi wrote:
Poorbuildyes. The misunderstanding is not entirely your fault - though I think you missed the irony. The Printworks backs on to Walwers Lane and its affordable housing is for part equity sale to key workers. The "Walwers Lane site" I was referring to is the affordable housing component of the proposed Lewes House development. This is all for rental to people on the housing list. The planners say they are not allowed to consider two separate applications side by side, but they aggregated the affordable housing for Printworks and Lewes House, allocating all the key worker flats to the Printworks and the rented flats to Lewes House. Segregation suits everyone (developers, planners, housing association) except the community who wanted 'pepperpotting' and the people who live there
 
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On 2 Sep 2009 at 11:44am Poorbuildyes wrote:
Thanks gloria, sorry for the misinterpretation on my part! I hadnt heard of the lewes house development.
 
 
On 2 Sep 2009 at 10:57pm Victor Meldrew wrote:
So poorbuildyes, did you do any research about Lewes before moving here?
 
 
On 3 Sep 2009 at 8:46am eh? wrote:
eh? Poorbuildyes might have been living in Lewes for years......?
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On 3 Sep 2009 at 12:07pm sashimi wrote:
Victor, Poorbuildyes must have done a search which would NOT have shown that there was a large development due to go up next door that would overshadow the Printworks and he/she would have been entitled to conclude that a building in the heart of the conservation area of a historic market town would be properly designed, built, inspected and signed off by the local authority building control and guaranteed for its first 10 years.
 
 
On 3 Sep 2009 at 12:12pm Prick Stein wrote:
Do you think poorbuildeyes also realised that Lewes was full of meddling incoming DFL's who have nothing better to do then continuously moan about everything. Worse things happen at sea you know! Plus if the flats fall down or burn down then we can get some new ones in there place, isn't this a good thing?
 
 
On 3 Sep 2009 at 8:42pm Geoff (of Lewes) wrote:
Wrong again, Prick. Do you work for LDC? You should. Nothging they like less than people who nare on theire case. the usual tactic is to try and write them of as meddling moaners, which is of course what you keep doing.
 
 
On 3 Sep 2009 at 10:18pm Angry of Lewes (Retd) wrote:
Geoff - i am really starting to like you - we must all fight the Lewes house scheme they must not be allowed to build more innappropriate, unsafe cr@p like the print works on "our" land - council land ie TAXPAYERS land surely WE have a say in the Lewes House development?
 
 
On 5 Sep 2009 at 4:40pm sashimi wrote:
AoL, my information is that the land is no longer LDC's. The plot for affordable housing (24 flats, I think) was said to have been sold for £1 to Southern Housing Association and the plot for the private development (35 flats) was sold for a six figure sum to Ash Mills.
 
 
On 5 Sep 2009 at 5:43pm No Pot Pourri wrote:
Sashimi: Are you sure it was only a six figure sum? Even at the top end of six figures, this works out at less than £30k per flat. Market value would be nearer to 60k.
 
 
On 6 Sep 2009 at 9:44am sashimi wrote:
NPP, this info reportedly came from a senior LDC councillor and my informant was reliable. I'm pretty sure of the sums. I don't know if there were any conditions like the land reverting if it's not developed within a set period. But in effect this key site has been transferred out of our ownership for a song.
 
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On 6 Sep 2009 at 12:55pm No Pot Pourri wrote:
So lets say we build decent 1 bed flats 50m2.
Build costs of £1000 per metre inc all fees and interest.
Flat build costs 50k
Sell for 3000 per metre (fairly conservative)
Sale price 150k
Land cost 30k
Profit 70k!
In reality, the developer would look at build cost 50k, land cost 50k, profit 50k as being a very good deal.
How was this land marketed and sold? Was it one of those "We have some preferred developers" sort of deals that does not get open to proper competition?
 
 
On 6 Sep 2009 at 12:59pm Spinster Of This Parish wrote:
I certainly would have purchased the sites for the amount they sold it for!

Apart from robbing the public of this valuable asset (land), the "sale" also robs the public of the valuable amenity that it was previously used for - car parking.
Shame on LDC (again)
 
 
On 6 Sep 2009 at 5:04pm No Pot Pourri wrote:
Maybe one of the people from the Lewes Community Land Trust could comment on this thread?
 
 
On 7 Sep 2009 at 1:54pm John Stockdale wrote:
There's not much Lewes CLT can say about this because it's all water under the bridge - except to point out what a missed opportunity. We got started because we thought there must be a better way of developing in the Town and one where the objective was maximising community benefit rather than shareholder profit. We are working on a small scale project which we will announce when the ink's dry on an agreement. We hope to get our eye in well enough to participate in larger schemes before all the developers recover from the recession.
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On 7 Sep 2009 at 3:31pm No Pot Pourri wrote:
Thanks John. Do you know how the Lewes House site was marketed and what steps were taken to make sure the taxpayer received full value in the sale? I have never seen it advertised. Were any agents instructed? Good luck with the forthcoming scheme - I look forward to hearing about it.
 
 
On 7 Sep 2009 at 6:50pm Annette Curtin-Twitcher wrote:
If councils are buying something, they are obliged to go out to tender and buy from the lowest bidder, unless there are compelling reasons not to. Isn't there some sort of converse when they come to sell stuff?
There bloody well should be.
 
 
On 7 Sep 2009 at 10:01pm Dave wrote:
NPP, LDC marketed the site through people specialising in property in historic environments, Drivers Jonas. It was marketed with a full development brief, the result of lots of consultation. There were various competitive bids, some schemes were publicised. Councils have to get value for money for public assets and such deals are referred to the "District Valuer", who is nothing to do with the district council,who has to verify and advise on the market value and see that it's obtained from a deal. The trouble is, it was quite a few years ago now, and the developers chosen were selected by people no longer on the council
 
 
On 7 Sep 2009 at 11:29pm No Pot Pourri wrote:
Dave:
Was this the same district valuer who said that it was not commercially viable for any affordable housing on the Malling Brooks site that later got planning with no affordable housing, making the owner a £4million profit for an investment of less than 1.5million?
I think the 4million quid would have provided some essential housing for local hardworking families. The district valuer just lined the pockets of a property spiv.
 
 
On 7 Sep 2009 at 11:40pm Lopster wrote:
surely South Downs National park status affects this now?
Plumpton college have been obliged to spend extra to make their recent expansion "blend in" - it does - it is brilliant and huge - a credit to the architect and builders why can the town centre not emulate our rural environs
 
 
On 8 Sep 2009 at 9:08am John Stockdale wrote:
NPP, Dave clearly knows the detail better than me. The Lewes House deal was effectively done when Ash Mills were awarded the scheme after a competition. I guess the district valuer then set the price for the land based in part on his estimate of the return the developer would make. The developer of the 125 flat scheme at South Downs Road claimed that there was a shortfall of £1.3m in a reasonable return on the development as the reason for not including affordable housing. The district valuer disagreed with their figures and said it was only 300k but that was enough for him to recommend the scheme. A number of people, including, I think, Merlin, said the Planning Committee should have ignored the district valuer. Presumably they were worried about an appeal.
 
 
On 8 Sep 2009 at 9:33am No Pot Pourri wrote:
Thanks again John
It is quite amazing to see millions of pounds of public money being squandered by Lewes DC. Why did they not just sell Lewes House with outline planning to the highest bidder? They could have added conditions in the contract and the outline permission.
Also, if the developer of the 125 units couldn't make enough money without fulfilling the social housing obligation he need not do the scheme. The land was never zoned for housing, it was commercial. They were not worried about an appeal when it came to Falmer stadium!
 
 
On 8 Sep 2009 at 11:59am Geoff wrote:
The reason our Council did not do any things described, is because they are devious, and incompetent. A very disatrous combination for us all. It is hard to tell which is which, but other projects such as Baxters reveal the incompetence, (not understanding fire access law at the planning stage) and the gerrymandering over at least 4years of Councillors discussing planning issues with residents (illegally preventing it ) reveals the deviousness of both senior councillors and officers.
The proof of the pudding is to jsut lok around us. We have crappily built flats with an inaccessible turning circle in a narrow lane, fancy wooden slats that go grey and fall off other ress Elliot buildings, drainage that was never checked and doesn't work, water streeaming down pavements, instead of gutters, and I understand there is now some problem with the converted toilets by the football stadium.
Lewes is a Rotten Borough, and acknowledging that is the frist step to solving the problems it creates.
And thank you Angry of lewes (retd) !
 
 
On 8 Sep 2009 at 7:17pm Annette Curtin-Twitcher wrote:
A cynical person might think that the council's incompetence is a deliberate attempt to mask their deviousness. I don't think they're that clever myself, but don't rule it out.
 
 
On 9 Sep 2009 at 9:30am Geoff wrote:
There are occassions when LDC planning officers 'forget' to do something crucial. But they aren't very good at it, so the two become difficult to distinguish. One true anecdote now doing the rounds (i have seen the correspondence) is that when they 'forgot' to include a key highway reccomendation in the Albion St application, they claimed that the letter was 'accidentally folded in plans' yet despite being larger than the plans,...it had no folds in it.


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Lewes Clouds 65:132
Lewes Clouds

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