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LDC Strategy for North Street site
 
1 hectare = 2.5 acres
1 hectare = 10,000 m2
1 acre = 4,000 m2
1 m2 = 10 ft2
 

Land amounting to approximately 9 hectares at North Street and the neighbouring part of Eastgate is allocated for a mixed-use development that would create a new neighbourhood for the town of Lewes.  A detailed Masterplan is to be prepared in advance of a formal planning application that will indicate the exact development mix based on the following uses and broad quantum of development:

  • Approximately 350 residential units, predominantly focused towards the northern part of the site;
  • Between 4,000 sq metres and 5,000 sq metres of B1a office floorspace;
  • Retail floorspace that meets a qualitative need in the town, predominantly for comparison goods;
  • A hotel;
  • The redevelopment or relocation of the existing food superstore; and
  • Other uses that are deemed to aid in the successful delivery of a new neighbourhood, whilst not undermining the wider function of the town (this could include A2 Financial and Professional Services, A3 Restaurants and Cafes, A4 Drinking Establishments and A5 Hot Food Takeaways).
  • D1 Medical and Health Services and D2 Leisure floorspace.

Development of this site will be delivered in the period between 2015 and 2018 and this will be further expanded upon in the Masterplan, which will be subject to approval from both the National Park Authority and District Council and be developed in consultation with residents, businesses and community groups on site and in the local area.

The redevelopment of the North Street Quarter and the neighbouring part of Eastgate will be permitted subject to compliance with the Core Delivery Policies of this plan, the aforementioned Masterplan, and the following criteria:

i)      The development incorporates the early provision of flood defences to an appropriate standard and to the approval of the Environment Agency;

ii)     The development facilitates improved linkages across Phoenix Causeway and Eastgate Street to enable the improved integration of the area to the north of Phoenix Causeway with the wider town centre;

iii)    The delivery of enhancements to vehicular access and off-site highway improvements, arising from and related to the development and its phasing;

iv)    The development respects and enhances the character of the town and achieves a high standard of design, recognising the high quality built environment, on and within the vicinity of the site, and the site’s setting within the South Downs National Park and the adjacent Conservation Area;

v)     The development will be subject to a programme of archaeological work, including, where applicable, desk-based assessment, geophysical survey, geo-archaeological survey and trial trenching to inform design and appropriate mitigation.

vi)    A riverside pedestrian route along the western bank of the River Ouse is incorporated into the scheme, which will extend the town’s riverside focus and contribute to the character and quality of the town.  Additional pedestrian and cycling routes will be incorporated into the site to aid in linking the site to the rest of the town;

vii)   The redevelopment would result in no net loss of public parking provision;

viii) The retail element of the development is incorporated into the town centre boundary (as designated by Core Policy 6) as far as feasibly possible, with any additional significant retail provision being directed to the southern part of the North Street Quarter. The exact location and amount of retail provision will be informed by a Retail Impact Assessment, which will be undertaken to inform the masterplanning process;

ix)    Subject to the commercial need, flexibility will be applied to the requirement to deliver B1a office floorspace, so that other B1 uses can be explored;

x)     Alternative uses will only be permitted on the bus station site should the facility be replaced on an operationally satisfactory and accessible site elsewhere; and

xi)     Contributions towards off-site infrastructure improvements arising from, and related to, the development.

North Street Map
 
Justification

6.46     The site subject to this policy is located immediately to the north-west of Lewes town centre and has an extensive river frontage stretching from just south of Phoenix Causeway up to Willey’s Bridge.  The site is in two distinct parts, but its redevelopment needs to be considered as one area in order for a holistic approach to be taken to this part of the town.  The two parts are the North Street Quarter, which lies to the north of Phoenix Causeway (this area is wholly outside, but adjoins the Lewes Conservation Area), and the northern part of the Eastgate area, which is within the Conservation Area.

6.47     The North Street Quarter is predominantly comprised of a range of industrial and warehouse buildings dating from the 1950s and 1960s.  Amongst other uses it includes a fire station, a recycling centre and surface level car parking.  In October 2000 much of the site was badly flooded and in the interim period no improved flood defences for the site have been provided.  This has impeded investment in the area resulting in many of the units becoming run down and less able to meet the needs of modern businesses.

6.48     The northern part of the Eastgate area consists of a Waitrose store and associated parking area, the adjacent former Wenban Smith buildings and the bus interchange.  The area covered by Waitrose and the Wenban Smith site was identified in the Local Plan (Policy LW7) as a potential area for redevelopment with the priority being for the retention of a major foodstore and introduction of a replacement bus interchange.  Although no such proposals have been subsequently put forward and implemented, there is still interest in redeveloping this site for a mixed use development that would incorporate an enhanced foodstore.  At the same time, there are still concerns over the long-term viability of operating the bus station in its current location and the possibility of a replacement facility is an option that the National Park Authority and District Council wish to see explored in any redevelopment proposals within this strategic site.  However, the wider redevelopment of this area will not be contingent upon this.

6.49     Rather than retain the Eastgate Area policy from the Local Plan by itself, it is considered that the redevelopment opportunities at the neighbouring North Street Quarter provide an opportunity to take a more flexible approach to the Eastgate Area and explore ways in which to link the two sites together.

6.50     It is considered appropriate to allocate the North Street Quarter and adjacent Eastgate area for redevelopment early in the plan period for a number of reasons.  Much of the redevelopment of the site is considered deliverable in the early part of the plan period, with proposals currently being progressed through the planning system.  In addition, the allocation offers a number of wider benefits that will help to achieve some of the Strategic Objectives of this plan, which are deemed appropriate to realise as soon as practicably possible (this includes the provision of improved flood defences that will defend a wider area than just the North Street Quarter alone).

6.51     In terms of the proposed uses within the strategic site, the following paragraphs provide a summary of the reasoned justification for them.

6.52     As evidenced by the Shopping and Town Centres Study, there is a limited quantitative need for additional retail floorspace in Lewes during the plan period.  However, the study also recognises that there is a qualitative need to provide some more modern retail floorspace in the town that would help reduce leakage of retail spending to other centres.  The study considers that the location with the best potential to provide such floorspace is at the eastern end of the High Street in the area to the north extending along the River Ouse.

6.53     The Shopping and Town Centres Study is clear that the redevelopment should not result in a foodstore that provides a significant increase in floorspace when compared to the existing store.  This is because limited need, in quantitative terms, has been identified for additional convenience floorspace during the plan period.

6.54     In terms of meeting the qualitative need for comparison retail, unlike with the convenience element there are no obvious opportunities for this to be provided through the redevelopment of existing comparison retailing areas.  This is because such areas in Lewes town generally have historical, townscape and/or conservation designations and value associated with them, meaning their redevelopment would undermine certain Strategic Objectives within this plan.  Therefore, in order to meet the qualitative need for comparison retail, new unit(s) will be required and this strategic site is considered to offer the best potential for meeting this need.

6.55     The preference for where the additional retail provision, along with enhanced foodstore, is delivered is on the land to the south of Phoenix Causeway and within the defined town centre boundary.  However, it is accepted that this may not be possible due to site constraints, lack of available land, and potential doubts over delivery in this location.  Therefore, subject to the detailed findings of a Retail Impact Assessment, some flexibility will be provided in relation to this part of the policy. 

6.56     Employment provision is a key consideration to the redevelopment of this strategic site, particularly so given that much of the North Street Quarter is currently utilised for employment land purposes.  The Employment and Economic Land Assessment (EELA) recognises that there is not a quantitative need to provide additional employment floorspace based on the current levels of supply.  However, in Lewes town there is seen to be a qualitative need to provide industrial and office floorspace in order to provide greater choice to existing and prospective businesses, including more modern business premises.

6.57     The EELA highlights the difficulties in finding new employment sites in the district and therefore urges caution when considering the potential loss of any existing employment land to alternative uses.  However, retaining the site in its current use is not seen as an appropriate option to pursue in the Core Strategy (the Sustainability Appraisal does not recognise this as one of the better performing options that has been considered).  As stated earlier, and as evidenced through the EELA, there is seen to be a qualitative need for additional office floorspace in Lewes (approximately 1 – 1.25 hectares) and the North Street site is considered to offer good potential for such use.  In addition, the EELA states that the North Street site “could perform better as an office site [in comparison to industrial use] if redevelopment were possible”.  Despite it not being mentioned within the policy, the incorporation of light industry (Use Class B1c) would, in principle, be acceptable within the redevelopment of the site.  This will be determined through the masterplanning process, and any subsequent planning application. 

6.58     In order to off-set the loss of the industrial units, the majority landowner for the North Street Quarter has acquired the Malling Brooks East employment allocation.  This allocation is expected to be implemented imminently with an extant planning permission being in place to enable this.  It is the aspiration of the landowner to relocate a number of the current businesses in the North Street area to this site.  Although it is accepted that this cannot be guaranteed (existing businesses may wish to relocate to an alternative site), it does demonstrate that a reasonable supply of modern industrial premises will shortly become available in Lewes town.   

6.59     The re-development of this strategic site will include the provision of a hotel.  The need for such a facility in the town of Lewes was identified in the Hotel and Visitor Accommodation Futures study.

6.60     In terms of housing, the relative levels of housing need coupled with limited suitable sites available to meet this need has already been highlighted.  With this in mind, the redevelopment of this strategic site provides one of the few prospects to deliver a quantum of housing that will significantly aid in meeting the affordable and market housing needs in the town.  The site’s deliverability for housing has been recognised by the SHLAA, although its suitability is contingent on the prior provision of suitable flood defences.  The appropriate housing mix for this site, in terms of type and size of units, will be determined through the masterplanning process.

6.61     The provision of parking is a key consideration in the redevelopment of the North Street and Eastgate area.  The site, at present, contains some areas of surface level parking.  As evidenced in the Survey of Lewes Car Parks (http://www.lewes.gov.uk/Files/plan_Lewes_Parking_Survey_Report.pdf), the town of Lewes has an under provision of parking spaces.  It is for this reason why there should be no net loss in parking provision from this scheme.  In addition, opportunities will be sought and supported for providing increased provision through this redevelopment scheme, particularly as aspects of the scheme are seeking to retain and attract increased expenditure in the town, which is likely to increase the need for further parking provision.

Extract ends

 

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