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Lewes Neighbourhood Plan

LATEST NEWS : 18th April 2017

 

The Pre-Submission Draft of the Lewes Neighbourhood Plan is now ready for its next important stage, a formal six-week public consultation which will begin on 8th May and end on 21st June 2017.

 

There will be a drop-in event presenting the draft plan at the Town Hall on 25th May from 1.00pm until 10pm and on the 26th May from 9.30am until 1.00pm. The full text of the draft plan will be available online together with a questionnaire in which you can tell us what you think.

 

There will also be printed versions available of both draft plan and an associated questionnaire at the Town Hall and the Public Library. We request that all comments go via the questionnaire as this is a formal process and everyone’s comments must be properly logged. These comments will then be collated, reviewed and where appropriate incorporated into an updated plan which will then be submitted to the South Downs National Park Authority for further consideration.

 

The draft Lewes Neighbourhood Plan has been produced because of several previous public consultations from which the steering group were tasked with two important objectives, to ensure that the character of the Lewes and its natural environment is preserved as completely as possible and to provide low cost housing for the residents.

 

Lewes Low Cost Housing

 

From the earliest public involvement in the Lewes Neighbourhood Plan one of the issues frequently raised was the need for smaller housing units which would be affordable for Lewes residents. Unfortunately, the Government definition of “affordable” does not sit well in Lewes, with the combination of low incomes and high housing costs that we experience here. The latter is of course exacerbated by the town being in a National Park and having good links to London.

 

Our proposed solution is the concept of “Lewes Low Cost Housing” (LLCH) which seeks to give priority to smaller sites which could achieve new housing to rent or buy for residents on lower incomes. So, to give this concept the best chance of success we have approached landowners within Lewes town boundary including Lewes District Council and East Sussex County Council to identify suitable sites.

We have been able to achieve many potential sites for LLCH using this approach, but need residents’ strong support to encourage landowners and developers to pursue this housing strategy.

 

Sustaining Our Community & Our Environment

 

As the largest town in any national park, Lewes is perhaps especially aware of its natural environment. The town did not expand as much as was usual in the nineteenth century because the seaside towns were the places that grew then and Lewes, on its hill, was not so easy to build in.

 

Even before the Downs were protected from building there were concerns that they were too exposed for comfort and the low-lying land around the river, much of which flooded, was reserved for industry. In particular, Every’s large Iron and Steel Works in Phoenix Place, which provided the cast iron for the seaside towns and the railways that took people there. This means that Lewisians are used to be able to walk out in to fields and onto downland and are familiar with its inhabitants, from the bees to the sheep that crop the grass and enable the growth of the flowers that the bees feed on, who pollinate the crops in the fields around us, and the nesting places for the skylarks.

 

So, the draft plan pays especial respect to our surroundings and its connections, and the corridors into the town and its green spaces which help local species to keep numbers sufficient for successful breeding. Our draft plan asks developers to respect this whole ecosystem, from leaving spaces for wildflowers and adding boxes for birds’ nests, to ensuring that green energy solutions both reduce carbon production and, importantly, the fuel bills of the future occupants. If we get this right we could have tourists coming to see how it can be done, and that would bring work too. We can even hope to offer a model of how to make a positive impact on the natural resources on which we, in turn, depend.