Lewes Forum thread

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The Phoenix

On 1 Mar 2012 at 12:29am Dave wrote:
There is an incredible amount of creative energy and industry going on down the Phoenix 'quarter'. Lewes will be a poorer place without it when it is replaced by print works style living accommodation. Is there anything that can be done?
On 1 Mar 2012 at 11:31am Vampire Buffet Slayer wrote:
My sentiments entirely Dave.
On 1 Mar 2012 at 12:12pm Southover Queen wrote:
We can lobby the council to ensure that the development offers community amenities as a condition of planning consent - so a large gallery space or performance space (or combination!). Personally I'd like to see a performance space with a seating capacity of 600 or so, which could double up as a cinema perhaps.
On 1 Mar 2012 at 12:32pm Mr Forks wrote:
Lobbying the developers would be a better course of action.
On 1 Mar 2012 at 1:18pm ProfessorYaffle wrote:
Not really. That sort of thing is a loss for the developers and they will avoid it if they can. The only way it could be done is getting the council to enforce it through what is known as a "section 106" agreement. It's quite common practice in ensuring that towns get leisure centres, theatres etc. in exchange for development. Although I'm not sure they will be the same sort of parties that have occasionally gone on down the Phoenix!
On 1 Mar 2012 at 1:35pm Mr Forks wrote:
I know what a S106 Agreement is, I also know what CIL is but LDC don't have that scheme in place yet. Thanks for being patronising!
On 1 Mar 2012 at 1:53pm Southover Queen wrote:
Exactly ProfessorYaffle. I didn't know what those deals were called (and I have no idea what a CIL is either) but I do know that a lot of community amenities around the country have popped up because of them. If LDC don't have such a scheme in place then it strikes me as doubly important to make a fuss.
On 1 Mar 2012 at 3:23pm Mr Forks wrote:
Community Infrastructure Levy.
On 1 Mar 2012 at 3:38pm Bobs wrote:
The redevelopment might not necessarily just involve solely housing, hopefully they will consider putting in, as suggested, a nice performance space, a few restaurants etc. I guess we will wait and see when the planning is submitted and shown on Council website. Don't hate me but I'm hoping for a Marks and Spencers... :O
On 1 Mar 2012 at 6:26pm Southover Queen wrote:
I would have thought that by the time a planning application has been made it would be a bit late. I shall contact my councillors to ask about this now, and I'd have thought the more people made a fuss the better.
On 1 Mar 2012 at 7:11pm Bongo wrote:
I'm hoping they don't knock down our depot - or any of the other dozens in use on the estate - to make way for your cinema or houses etc. It's all a bit worrying, tbh.
On 1 Mar 2012 at 7:18pm Realistic wrote:
Southover Queen this isn't the South Bank! A performance space with capacity for 600? - get real! Lewes is a small and sleepy county town with a population of just 16,000 - it's tiny, way too tiny to support the proposals of full-time cinema or large performing arts centres.
I know Lewes people think they are important - but the size of the town makes these pie-in-the-sky ideas seem ridiculous. I'm always chuckling at Viva Lewes inferiority complex that makes them constantly harp on about Lewes being a town that 'punches well above it's cultural weight'. Well maybe it does - but it's still a small town and so punching above it's weight does not equal much at all.
On 1 Mar 2012 at 7:34pm Southover Queen wrote:
St John sub Castro is the best venue for music making in town. It's also around half the size which makes it viable as a performance space for anything larger than a chamber group. One of its major users makes a loss each time they perform there because it cannot accommodate a larger audience - and most of the time the concerts would easily sell another 200 or 300.

So actually I'm getting perfectly real. I'm not suggesting anything grand - maybe 400 rather than 600? Small this town may be, but it has a considerable appetite for good music making. Combine that with a space for theatre, music theatre, dance, school performances and cinema which could also adapt as a gallery and cultural centre manned by volunteers and I don't see why not, actually.
On 1 Mar 2012 at 7:52pm Realistic wrote:
Another unrealistic Lewesian.. SQ you don't think that maybe a bigger auditorium might also cost more? You are also focussing on a specific area of performance which happens to interest you but is not representative of what a performing arts space would necessarily do day-in, day-out. Are these music events very regular or are you talking about one-off events?
If the sole reason an event loses money is down to lack of capacity then don't you think that event organiser would put the event on twice instead of losing money on a single event?
You are like so many others - totally unrealistic.
On 1 Mar 2012 at 9:40pm Fairmeadow wrote:
What does Lewes need most?
Flood protection (for Phoenix & Pells area)?
More affordable housing?
Another performance space?
More employment opportunities - and doing what?
More shops?
A more attractive riverside?
All loss makers, and to be paid for by DFL/Printworks-style housing, which is about all that actually makes money for developers.
You can have some of the above - but not all.
What should the priorities be?
Is that realistic enough for Realistic?
On 1 Mar 2012 at 11:17pm Southover Queen wrote:
Oh dear, silly me: of course! Put on two performances! Why oh why didn't we think of that!

Well, imagine you've got four soloists and ten instrumentalists. They're all professionals and they need paying. The conductor needs paying, and the organist needs paying. The venue needs hiring, preparing, heating. The costs of all this are - say - £5000. The income from tickets is - say - £3000. That's per performance. Put on another performance and suddenly the event is £4000 not £2000 out. Is that graphic enough for you?

As to Lewes being a small town which could not possibly support such a level of interest, I beg to differ. We've got six or seven active choirs, maybe more, an amateur orchestra, a couple of ad hoc drama groups, an operatic society, a lot of chamber groups, and live music in at least one pub virtually every night of the week.

What a ridiculous notion. Just as ridiculous as conceiving of an international opera house in the middle of a field which attracts world class performers and audiences from all over the world. Clearly an absurd idea.

One of the more depressing things about this forum is how everyone is willing to jump to conclusions in the absolute certainty that they know better and that their priorities are the right ones. They're not interested in other points of view and they're very quick to rubbish opinions which do not chime with their own.

If all we can do is squabble and exchange insults then we will suffer yet more housing development which brings no discernible benefit to the town or its existing inhabitants. Then you can all sit here and moan and say "I told you so". Alternatively, we can think about taking control and making our feelings known. I know what I'm going to do.
On 1 Mar 2012 at 11:40pm Mungo wrote:
I'm hoping the developers get rid of those disgusting new age travellers . Absolute scroungers . To me they represent the want something for nothing culture created by 13 years of the new Labour party. ( The worst administration ever to have governed this once great country ) Bring on the developers.
On 2 Mar 2012 at 7:47am Section 6 wrote:
Before the developers can start anything they will need to have the squatters evicted through the courts and with so many empty propertys surrounding them it wont be hard for us to jump into the next building. Its going to take a long time to move us on this time. Suck on my section 6 mr developer. x
On 2 Mar 2012 at 11:09am Bobs wrote:
Southover Queen I hear you! It would be nice to have a proper dedicated performance space and that location is prime right by the river. They could really make it something special down there pedestrianise it (typo!), put a small park in, some shops, cafe, nice restaurants. I hope they don't just put affordable housing in!! What shouldnt happen though is everyone jumping on the band wagon and arguing against any type of development which is what happened to the last developer! This could potentailly be a great thing for Lewes and I feel is definetly needed. Also, I'm hoping they'd provide some much needed flood protectioin.
On 2 Mar 2012 at 12:21pm Mr Forks wrote:
A high quality, well thought out mixed use riverside development is exactly what Lewes needs? Lets hope the nimby's don't kill it!
On 2 Mar 2012 at 1:49pm Bobs wrote:
@Mr Forks...YES! Note 'MIXED USE' - there could be a performance venue there, a few resturants (as Lewes barely has any), a cafe, a few shops, some housing on river. Are you suggesting that's a bad thing?! Perhaps we should all just complain and protest and make the new developers lives so difficult (as is what happened last time!) so that it remains a delapitated estate where the majority of the venues are out of business and no longer in use. HONESTLY. Also, WTF is a Nimby?!
On 2 Mar 2012 at 2:45pm Professor Yaffle wrote:
Mungo - New age travellers emerged during the Major government, if I recall. The people you are talking about are not "scroungers" though, they earn a living through the work of their own hands, which is not something you can say about many people in Lewes.
And the Phoenix units are widely used by lots of groups, although they may not all be known to locals or advertised that widely.
On 2 Mar 2012 at 2:48pm Professor Yaffle wrote:
It is just rubbish that Lewes cannot support a decent performance space. Ludlow is roughly the same size as Lewes, is in a more sparsely populated county and does not have the high number of arts/media workers that this town has - yet it supports the Ludlow Assembly Rooms. See also: Theatre by the Lake in Keswick.And no doubt other examples around the land.

Check it out here »
On 2 Mar 2012 at 3:31pm Southover Queen wrote:
Indeed, Prof. Ipswich has a lovely looking space called The New Wolsley theatre, seating 400 and doing fine from the look of it. (Ipswich's population is 16,000 so exactly the same size as Lewes...)

Check it out here »
On 2 Mar 2012 at 4:32pm Professor Yaffle wrote:
And Ipswich is a lot less affluent than Lewes.
On 2 Mar 2012 at 5:08pm Annette Curtin-Twitcher wrote:
Although Lewes only has a population of 16,000, there are lots of people living in the surrounding villages and nearby towns who would be happy to come into Lewes if there was a venue that put on quality stuff and had room for a decent sized audience.
You get economies of scale with a larger venue which makes it possible to get better performers.
On 2 Mar 2012 at 5:34pm Southover Queen wrote:
Exactly ACT, as I attempted to explain to the very patronising "realistic". As a member of one of Lewes' more popular music making groups, I know the audiences are there and I know why the current facilities are not economic.
On 2 Mar 2012 at 10:46pm Expat 3 wrote:
I take it SQ is being ironic when she says Ipswich has a population of 16,000. A certain on-line encyclopedia has it at 128,000
On 2 Mar 2012 at 11:04pm Man wrote:
Precisely, Expat 3! Too many on here clearly know absolutely nothing about the places they quote in support of their own little arguments. In the same way that Ipswich's population is nowhere near 16,000, the claim that 'the New Wolsely space looks lovely' is seriously vacuous.
On 2 Mar 2012 at 11:07pm Southover Queen wrote:
Ooops! No, I wasn't, Expat 3, just wrong! It seems that 16000 is the population of Ipswich, NSW. Sorry!

Nonetheless, I'd say we have a large potential audience both in the town and in the surrounding countryside (and Brighton and Eastbourne, for that matter).
On 3 Mar 2012 at 7:46am Professor Yaffle wrote:
Well, the population of Ludlow is 10,000 - less than Lewes - and it supports the Assembly Rooms (see above). It also, at one point, had three michelin starred restaurants.
LEwes is not an island. It has a lot of tourists. And while I know Lewesians like to think Brighton is some distant exotic land, it is actually easier and quicker to get from Brighton to Lewes than from Seaford or Ditchling to Lewes. Brightonians would come to Lewes if there were something decent on - most seem to see it as a suburb of Brighton, after all.
On 3 Mar 2012 at 8:26am Proffesor Yaffle wrote:
I should have said that brightonians do come to lewes when there is something intetesting on. plus we do have a large university on our doorstep. its not as if lewes is some tiny isolated town.
On 3 Mar 2012 at 8:42am bastian wrote:
what will actually be lost from that site are the affordable studios for artists..art does not make huge amounts of money but it is important for the community, some would argue not ,but those spaces are cheap and free for anyone to take up to express themselves.Artists studios are few and far between, what comes out of the pheonix is open to the public and very much part of the real Lewes community, for the Lewes community.
On 3 Mar 2012 at 12:22pm bongo wrote:
Have any of you been on the estate during the day, and seen just how busy the place is with numerous companies employing numerous people - many been here umpteen years. What's more important - people's livelihoods, or an entertainment venue? It's not pleasant at the moment, not knowing how secure your job is.
On 4 Mar 2012 at 5:44pm bastian wrote:
daily mate, yes..but the chattering classes don't like industry,it's untidy and an eyesore.
On 4 Mar 2012 at 6:39pm realistic wrote:
SQ you must realise that larger venues are more expensive to hire - and to run? The fact that you can fit more people in for a one-off performance does not mean that for 365 days a year a town of this size can realistically support a 600 seat venue. I'm not being patronising - I don't mean it would not be artistically supported, I'm just talking about the raw numbers. A 600 seat venue in Lewes would never pay it's way, and if that was the case it would either cost the local tax-payers to keep it subsidised and open or it would close.
Incidentally, going back to your strange example of the concert that could be sold-out 2 times over - why not simply increase the ticket price to a level where it didn't lose money if capacity is limited?
On 4 Mar 2012 at 8:06pm Southover Queen wrote:
Because it would make it unaffordable for a lot of people - the shortfall in ticket revenue from St John sub Castro (for instance) would mean increasing prices by something like double.

I did revise my admittedly overenthusiastic recommendation for a 600 seater venue, but I do maintain that Lewes (and surrounding areas) would support a 350-400 seat venue. More to the point, I can't understand why the first instinct of everyone here is to rubbish any idea which has a little ambition, rather than just moaning on and on. There is an opportunity to petition for better community amenities from the developer of the Phoenix area, as well as ensuring that existing businesses are protected and all the rest of it. So let's take it and make sure that the voice of Lewes residents is heard so that everyone benefits.
On 5 Mar 2012 at 9:32am Professor Yaffle wrote:
Realistic - let's look at the evidence.
Keswick, Cumbria. Population c. 5,000. Has a theatre with a capacity of 500 + studio and performance space
Ludlow, Shropshire. Population: c. 10,000. Has a theatre with a capacity of 200 plus other space
Chipping Norton, Oxfordshire. Population: c. 6,000. Has a theatre with a capacity of 300 plus cinema space.
Hebden Bridge, West Yorkshire. Population: 4,500. Permanent 950-seat cinema.
Malvern, Worcestershire. Population: 30,000. Several theatres including one with a capacity of 950.
Lewes, East Sussex. Population 17,000. ?
None of these towns have the wealth or media/arts employed population as Lewes. They are also in emptier parts of the country.
Part of me thinks that if you are in a genuinely rural area, then you feel that you need to make the most of what you have. There is a tendency in a town such as Lewes, which is in a comparatively populous county and near Brighton and London, for people to be desperate for the town to be quieter and more backward than it really needs to be (or really is).
On 5 Mar 2012 at 9:35am Professor Yaffle wrote:
Chipping Norton is perhaps the best example. It's less than half the size of Lewes, is not as affluent and is rather less, ahem, culturally minded than here - but still manages to have this:

Check it out here »
On 5 Mar 2012 at 2:49pm TeaPot wrote:
I have noted that the human has a tendency to resist change.
Change is good, embrace it or die............
On 5 Mar 2012 at 3:42pm bastian wrote:
Professor Yaffle, you are quite right on the facts but it is precisely because those areas are in the middle of nowhere that they do well.Brighton is Lewes problem, because it swallows culture in its size and the media sort are quite happy to go into Brighton to get hteir culture. that leaves lewes high and dry, it's a case of travel for entertainment, travel for shops and Lewes suffers for that.
It is the studio space that will be missed and no corperation is going to build that into their complex and if they do it will cost alot more than it does now.
On 5 Mar 2012 at 3:46pm bastian wrote:
Also i have just heard that the santon group are a reworking of the partners who developed the st nicolas lane flats.I was up on the top of chaple hill the other day and they stand out like a sore thumb.Go and take a look sometime,they really are out of keeping in this town and sticking a few token prefab flint panels on the side does nothing to make them blend in.
I have no problem with change as long as it's done right not just buldozed through in a crap way.
Where are all those businesses going to go when this goes through?
On 5 Mar 2012 at 4:10pm some0ne else wrote:
Your friendly neighbourhood Bastian translation service:

"they stand out like a sore thumb" - meaning they don't look as if they were built 100 years ago.

"I have no problem with change as long as it's done right" - meaning I'd believe in the theoretical possibility that it's possible for something to represent 'change' whilst looking like it was built 100 years ago, although the truth is that I can't come up with any practical examples of what 'done right' means and I'd really just prefer not to come across as a total Luddite.

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