‘Enthusiastic, energetic, exciting, exhausting.’ That was the verdict of Richard Eastham, consultant for Feria Urbanism from Bournemouth, at the end of three days of fact-finding with Lewesians on matters relating to drawing up the neighbourhood plan.
So far only a few dozen such plans are in force across the country, with several hundred more in the pipeline.
Essentially they are a way of getting locals’ views incorporated into the planning mechanism. The ideas that come out of this exercise of working with individuals from the community are distilled and refined into what will become a legally binding statutory planning document, subject to approval at a referendum. So if, for example, there was a clause inserted into the document requiring access to the River Ouse, then planning applications in the future would require landowners to allow for such access.
Richard stressed that the tremendous range of ideas that have come out of the three-day event during 30 June-2 July are very much work in progress, and that ideas will be adapted at further events held in Lewes during September, October and November.
The neighbourhood plan for Lewes aims to:
- create a shared vision for Lewes
- clearly indicate where new homes, shops, offices and workplaces should be built
- protect green spaces and historic buildings
- influence the designs of new homes, other buildings and the linking spaces in between
- express a view on our streets and infrastructure, tourism, leisure and community facilities, and environmental issues
- incorporate an ecosystem approach
‘The Neighbourhood Plan’ is not a single idea but rather lots of small dabs of paint, and represents Lewes town only,’ explained Richard, who summarised what’s happened so far:
- A visioning event where participants highlighted all sorts of issues and facets of Lewes – top ten qualities, top ten challenges, areas where housing development should go, etc.
- Ten-minute presentations from residents on such aspects as eco issues, cycling, transport, the Phoenix development, tourism and the Lewes pound.
- Site visits to three areas along the Ouse: Old Malling Farm, the town centre and south of the centre, looking at all sorts of aspects, such as parking, problems of an ageing population, access, architecture, the High Street, wayfinding systems, eco village principles, underused spaces, heritage issues, vistas and urban design.
- Criteria for potential development sites for 220 new homes in Lewes.
It was noted that the development of this neighbourhood plan urgently needs more contributions and involvement from younger age groups, particularly the 20-30 age and schools, as well as business people.
All the material can be seen on www.lewes4all.uk – where you can also add feedback.
Furniture Now! , a local charity that supports disadvantaged adults across East Sussex, are thrilled to announce that they have been shortlisted for the Social Enterprise award at the 2015 Lewes District Business Awards to be held on 9 July at Pelham House Hotel in Lewes. They sent us this notice:
“Furniture Now! not only provides good-quality, affordable furniture and household items to people on low incomes, but helps to decrease landfill by recycling these items. The charity supports around 35,000 local people each year across East Sussex. The money raised by the charity goes towards providing free training for adults including those who are unemployed or have long-term health issues, in order to build their confidence or to help them back into employment. Last year the charity helped 40 adults to read, write and count and over a third of our staff are apprentices or advanced apprentices.
Furniture Now! is honoured to be shortlisted for this award as it is an acknowledgement of all that they are trying to achieve for the local community – none of which could happen without the support of the local people who volunteer with them in a wide variety of roles.”
We had a lively morning at the Societies Fair at the Town Hall on 4 July, and it was good to meet some of our members and interest some potential new ones.
Thanks go to Ruth O’Keeffe for organising the event that gives an insight into the astonishing diversity and number of voluntary organisations in Lewes. The event raised around £300 for the Lewes Victoria Hospital.
We launched the ShairFair at the event This is an ongoing database of items, skills, premises etc that can be shared out for free or loaned for a fee. We heard from the Lewes Group in Support of Refugees and Asylum Seekers that they offer training in asylum and refugee issues. The Nutty Wizard offer a meeting room at £8 per hour, and the East Sussex Fire Service has a meeting rooms that can be used for free as well as a badge-making machine. Cycle Lewes offer cycle training for all, New Sussex Opera have lots of theatrical costumes, stage scenery and props. And Lewes Town Partnership has a folding table-top display stand, available free to Partnership members.
Do you, for instance, have storage space, or a data projector you can hire out or lend to member organisations? Or expertise such as professional advice, training or practical skills you can offer to others? If so please send an email to Tim at email@example.com giving a contact name and what you can offer and he’ll add it to the database. Just a one-liner will do fine.
At the Fair, a poll was taken of stallholders who opted by a majority to move the date next year to September. It was announced that the 2016 Societies Fair will therefore be held on Saturday 3 September.
We met up with Maria Caulfield, the MP for Lewes, pictured here in the centre with Ruth O’Keeffe (at back) and flanked by members of the Lewes Access Group (LTP Board member Jim Sinclair on left and Susie Arlett on right).