Lewes Forum thread

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PHOENIX redevelopment

On 27 Dec 2012 at 6:00pm brixtonbelle wrote:
We've had a leaflet through our door re the so-called "North Street Quarter" redevelopment proclaiming 'Your say is good' .

Three public workshops are being held as part of the Santon group 'consultation'. The first is on January 19, 10-3pm at The town hall, repeated on 29th Jan 3-8pm at Southover grange.

As there has been a lot of debate on this forum about what Lewes would like to see in that area I suggest we all try and go and contribute our thoughts.
There is no indication on the leaflet whether this is indeed a true 'consultation' or an information meeting about what Santon want to do, or whether it is a 'propaganda' exercise whereby they try to tell us what they want and why it would be 'good' for the town and its people.
Here's the link to the website - which at the moment just directs to a pdf of the leaflet
On 27 Dec 2012 at 6:01pm brixtonbelle wrote:
Sorry link not working - it's northstreetqtr.co.uk. Just add the www at the front.
On 27 Dec 2012 at 6:33pm Townie wrote:
Whilst i think most people welcome public consultation, how many of the local population will turn up ? Im not talking about the serious pros or antis, im talking about the 2.4 children, 3 bed semi, 2 car families who would never attend such meetings and even if they did, they would feel either too shy or too intimidated to speak out.
As a result, you'll get swampy and the gang....about 50 passionate antis who'll ram their opinions down any one's throats who dare to listen.
every household should be sent something....a questionaire, an opportunity to give their opinions etc etc.
Personally, i'd love to see the site developed but it's got to be good for EVERYBODY, not just the chosen few.
On 27 Dec 2012 at 6:39pm Townie wrote:
No times on that website either !!!!
On 27 Dec 2012 at 6:45pm Harold wrote:
Here,Here Townie,, What a great idea, and hopfully it wont be full of loaded questions that always give the answers that they want like the parking one did.
On 27 Dec 2012 at 8:14pm Matt Kent wrote:
Maybe Santon could send a simple questionnaire to every household with a freepost return address so that everyone has the opportunity to comment on its future (or even a form in the Sussex Express). There have been a few consultations in the past, but the usual suspects do generally respond. We all should have a say, especially kids, as they should be taking an keen interest in shaping Lewes for their future (and their kids future).
On 27 Dec 2012 at 8:37pm Adam Pinkworth wrote:
The meeting is at 10 am on Saturday 19th Jan 2013 in the Town Hall, repeated on Tuedsya 29th Jan at 3 pm at Southover Grange.

Check it out here »
On 27 Dec 2012 at 8:51pm Townie wrote:
I actually wonder how many "NORMAL" Lewes folk even know anything's happening at all down there !!!!!
On 27 Dec 2012 at 9:44pm Agree with Townie wrote:
Townie is right, how ironic that all the greens, transition town flat earth supporters and even doubtless the anti-fracking mob will ensure that it will be their vision, to the exclusion of all others which will prevail whilst claiming victory over the "big faceless developer" whose vision would have prevailed to the exclusion of all others!
On 27 Dec 2012 at 10:27pm Lopster wrote:
any chance of scanning and "posting" a copy of the leaflet - I had assumed all development was dead and buried
On 27 Dec 2012 at 10:45pm Brixtonbelle wrote:
Ummm - I did put the dates and times in the OP.
Townie it's a shame that you seem determined to paint any possible respondents to the meetings as one type of person. The more this meeting is publicised the more people will have the chance to attend and possibly influence the proposed development. You too could come along and see what's happening.
On 27 Dec 2012 at 11:25pm Southover Queen wrote:
Can anyone else see the irony in complaining that people who can't be bothered to take part won't be heard while the people who can be bothered to take part will be? It's not the fault of the second group if the first is apathetic.

"Agree with Townie", if you really do think that only "greens, transition town flat earth supporters and even doubtless the anti-fracking mob" will be volunteering their opinions, then there is a very simple solution.
On 28 Dec 2012 at 12:12am Lewes lady wrote:
No irony, just the very good point that there is a high probability of only a very small minority of the town's population responding. Whilst the educated, informed and/or vocal few ARE typically motivated to engage with such initiatives, most people aren't - that's a fact. This inevitably means that it will be easy for the any involved party to dismiss the objections - as they inevitably will be - as an insignificantly tiny fraction of the town.
It might make sense for all societies, clubs, groups in the town etc to canvas opinion amongst their members to a) see if there's much interest and b) to communicate any opinions to the Council / Developers.
On 28 Dec 2012 at 12:24am Southover Queen wrote:
That's also true, but it's not the same point. It is not the fault of those who do engage that so many others don't. I dare say that the vocal minority would be absolutely delighted if the famously silent majority did mobilise, but it shouldn't stop those who want to have their say.
On 28 Dec 2012 at 12:35am Lewes lady wrote:
Have I missed something? Where / who mentioned fault or blame re the vocal few? Townie didn't.
On 28 Dec 2012 at 1:01am Southover Queen wrote:
I'd say that both Townie and Agree with Townie use terms which suggest that The Vocal Few shout down and intimidate the rest in their posts. Agree with Townie, in particular, seems to think that the involvement of one group will drive away the other:

"how ironic that all the greens, transition town flat earth supporters and even doubtless the anti-fracking mob will ensure that it will be their vision, to the exclusion of all others which will prevail"

"about 50 passionate antis who'll ram their opinions down any one's throats"

Now I actually do heartily agree with Townie that the development should be for everyone. I just don't like the way that those who are prepared to get off their backsides are cast in such negative terms; quite apart from anything else it's not likely to inspire the silent majority to take action alongside them, is it?
On 28 Dec 2012 at 2:08am lewes lady wrote:
Crikey! I'd better be very very careful to examine every possible interpretation of every syllable that I ever post on here, if people are likely to interpret my words in that sort of way!
I think the basic point is true - the vocal few in most situations DO tend to overwhelm the quiet majority, and in many cases can be extremely daunting and intimidating for the Average Joes. But that's not the same as they are to blame for the quiet majority staying quiet - I don't think that was a fair conclusion to jump to at all.
On 28 Dec 2012 at 7:40am Follower wrote:
Townie, all - you can find the pdf of the flyer, showing location and times, on the Friends of Lewes website:

Check it out here »
On 28 Dec 2012 at 8:19am Taff wrote:
Your conversation will turn into a peeing competition Lewes Lady. As far as I can read back it always has.
Black and white is purposely made grey by some, so they have a voice. Just like Cleggs lot!
On 28 Dec 2012 at 8:23am Cuban Raft Rider wrote:
Perhaps if you want the views in particular of the 2.4 children, 3 bed semi, 2 car families who are either too intimidated by Swampy & Crew you should directly canvas them on the door step
On 28 Dec 2012 at 8:46am WEBBY PIRATE wrote:
YARGH! Why can't there be more information, questionnaires, contact forms, discussion tools on their web site?
On 28 Dec 2012 at 11:24am Taff wrote:
Although sensible idea Pirate it would not be advantageous to them. I dont like questionnaires as it allows them to guide your response so it always looks positive. Never really seen a questionnaire yet that has 'no' related questions.
On 28 Dec 2012 at 11:39am Townie wrote:
then it needs to be done independantly taff...not by LDC or the commerce lot nor by developers. A simple leaflet explaining what the proposals are and a section on how you'd change them and/or what you'd like to see.
On 28 Dec 2012 at 2:22pm brixtonbelle wrote:
According to the leaflet the first workshops at the town hall and southover grange will be run by an independent group on behalf of the developers. I've seen this happen before, involving the redevelopment and reconfiguration of a road system. The residents got very excited to be consulted, spent a lot of time planning and getting involved, only for many of the ideas to be junked or turned down. The final result was a mishmash of ideas that was watered down to suit the car parking lobby and did not end up as the radical idea initially proposed that favoured pedestrians (I don't want to go into detail here, so as not to confuse the issue)

The point is that people will have the chance to have some input and get involved. Whether that input is eventually acted upon or dismissed by the planners or developers is part of the process, but at least there is some sort of consultation going on that could give people a voice, however limited. I urge everyone who has an interest to go along. I'm sure the Lewes conservation societies and the community land trust will be there also and I certainly hope to be. As I say, spread the word.
(By the way I am one of the typical 3-bed, 2.4 kid families, although we only have one car!)
On 28 Dec 2012 at 2:32pm Local wrote:
Hopefully people will realise that the developers have bought the site for whatever sum on the basis of numerous studies and models as to what they will be allowed to build, at what cost, and for what yield / revenue. They will either be experts, or have contracted experts, to develop those models; they won't be people who have bought the site with no idea what to do with it, or with the specific idea of turning to the residents or indeed councils of Lewes in order to work out what to build there.
Therefore it seems reasonable to assume that all 'consultation' will be geared towards them a) getting planning permission for as close to one of their models as possible, b) without alienating too much of the population (a la Greene King), and c) with the possible adoption of a couple of minor cost-bearable elements which will allow vocal local groups to claim credit for themselves and provide the genesis for an appropriate PR campaign to smooth the development to a successful financial conclusion.
Any more than that will be a miracle. Any less will be fun to watch!
On 28 Dec 2012 at 3:21pm Clifford wrote:
I wonder if they've taken Charles Style on as a consultant on how not to pull the woold over the eyes of the council and the population? He could tell them that to keep on saying 'I'm going to build a cinema on land I don't own' doesn't work in the end.
On 28 Dec 2012 at 3:52pm Taff wrote:
Good call Local.
They know what the minimum they want is already to make it a viable project, just a case of where any adjustments can be tolerated. If any if at all.
On 28 Dec 2012 at 3:59pm Southover Queen wrote:
I agree, Townie, and actually I agree with everyone who's said that there are people who don't turn out to public meetings for whatever reason (and also with the cynics who reckon that it's just a way of pacifying the locals while pursuing their own plans).

So how about setting up a simple website which is completely independent of either LDC or the developers (or for that matter the SDNP)? You could have a simple forum, and you could also have pages which show current plans and proposals with some commentaries about how they'd function. You could also set up links which allow the non-attenders a chance to submit their views by email, so that it's as easy as possible for everyone to have a voice.

I'd be more than happy to set something up or help someone else do so: I think this is important for our community. I completely agree that the more comprehensive the consultation, without "guidance" from the developers who will be wanting to persuade the townsfolk that their ideas are the best/only solution, the more chance we have of getting something which benefits us.
On 28 Dec 2012 at 6:07pm Clifford wrote:
Southover Queen - sounds like the old Lewes Matters website, which was such a useful medium for news, exchanges of ideas, etc, when the last owner was making plans. Could it be revived perhaps?
On 28 Dec 2012 at 6:41pm Southover Queen wrote:
I don't know, Clifford. Does anyone know who ran it? It's actually really easy to set up a simple website plus forum from scratch - I could do it in an hour or so, at least in a basic form. These days a domain name is cheap as chips too, so there's no real reason not to do it. What does anyone else think?
On 28 Dec 2012 at 6:46pm Southover Queen wrote:
There we go. I have registered www.lewesmatters.com as a domain.
On 28 Dec 2012 at 8:26pm Fuddy Duddy wrote:
But isn't that just going become an even more obscure talking shop for the vocal minority than this Forum?
Or is someone going to donate the funds and expertise to publicise and promote awareness of the site to a wider audience, and then motivate and incentivise said silent majority to engage?
On 28 Dec 2012 at 8:27pm bastian wrote:
I have it on good authority that the kids of Lewes were consulted at Priory schoolas part of their community day (so child 2 told me), but how many Lewes kids have any concept of how much they are going to have to earn to live here in the future? The depth of the matter of 3 and a third of your income for a mortgage won't have crossed their minds yet, and as for what they need versus what they want has not been discussed with them. what is worrying is that Santon could use this for ticking boxes..ie.."we consulted Lewes youth" and they said, when we suggested a cinema,"Yes we'd love a cinema"regardless of whether a cinema would make enough money to last here for more than a year, and then like the HQ gallery, end up being part of a box ticking excercis that is now defunkt ( and being used to store furniture from what I have seen).
On 28 Dec 2012 at 8:50pm Local wrote:
Often wondered about the HQ gallery. Why wasn't it just built as another house?
On 28 Dec 2012 at 10:54pm Clifford wrote:
What this 'silent majority' business seems to amount to is, 'We're not interested in doing anything about anything ever, so you shouldn't as well'. It's a more modern version of 'Master knows best, it's not for the likes of us to question'. You get the same comments about the Occupy movement, protests about tax dodging businesses etc.
On 28 Dec 2012 at 11:08pm Southover Queen wrote:
It will be what the community wants it to be, Fuddy Duddy. We have this forum, twitter, the Sussex Depress and word of mouth to spread the word. We can print up a few posters with the URL on them and stick up on lampposts. The point really is that it's an independent space which has no connection with any of the other interested parties, and if it doesn't fly, well that's £6 down the drain. Cost of a couple of drinks - nothing ventured, nothing gained, eh?

Local, as far as I know the HQ gallery was built as a condition of approval being granted for the neighbouring residential buildings. It's in a totally daft location - no casual footfall, nowhere to park and in the middle of a residential area. Its failure is no surprise whatsoever, IMHO. My guess is that most people, if asked, would have said that, but either they weren't asked or, more likely, they were "consulted" by means of some plans viewable at Southover House and a couple of laminated A4 sheets. As we know very few people take the time to visit the planning office and then write sensible objections - not least because I don't suppose most of us believe it will do much good.

The Phoenix area is much bigger and potentially really important for the town. They will have to do better than that, and this time the ultimate decision will be taken by the South Downs National Park, not a bunch of people who don't even live here acting as our "elected representatives" and railroading dumb decisions through the system.

Without a common rallying point the residents of Lewes will be easily dismissed but equally we know that if we get together and make enough fuss we can be pretty noisy - it's worked before. And by putting together a coherent set of responses, where onlookers can see that the town really does want (or not want) something, not just the usual suspects who shout loudest (to paraphrase Cllr James Page) but enough of us that we have to be listened to. I'm not sure that SDNP would feel able to dismiss that kind of feedback. It's worth a try.
On 29 Dec 2012 at 6:35am Townie wrote:
I think one of the biggest problems is that no one is going to be able to dictate what businesses or trades go there.
My dream would be to have 1/3 residential, 1/3 industrial and 1/3 commercial but no one would be able to dictate what business went into those commercial and industrial units. Not forgetting, you don't really want to take people out of the high street so maybe more specialised commercial would have to go in there (a bit like the equine feed shop in the north st car park)
I'd love to see a river side cafe and even some sort of foot bridge that is between wileys and causeway.
maybe a new thread is needed on this

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