One of the original objectives LPR set outback in 2015 – 16 was to see some ‘Beautiful Homes’ built in Lewes at a properly, locally affordable rent.
Whilst we are hopeful this will still happen eventually on the North Street development, some of us within the LPR management team have been doing more research and probing a little deeper into other options in Lewes.
We have seen plenty of wealthy developers building high-end properties on small plots of land, or converting previous office space into luxury apartments all over Lewes, but very little so far has happened in the Low Cost (LC) housing arena.
Some progress can be seen however:
Lewes Neighbourhood Plan
One of our team spent many long months representing LPR in the Neighbourhood Plan steering group and editorial team. In the public consultations for the Plan the issue that recurred, unsurprisingly, was the cost of housing in the Town. The steering group developed a policy for Lewes Low Cost Housing at lower cost than the 80% of market value which the government had defined as ‘affordable’ in 2010. After initial scepticism about viability this policy was backed by the South Downs National Park and by the Town Council with the particular support of Chelsea Renton in her role as Town Councillor for Bridge Ward.
The policy was enthusiastically accepted as necessary by the SDNPA planning committee last July and passed independent examination. It applies to all development sites in the Town except those already defined for housing need belonging to LDC (Housing Revenue Account sites). The N Plan was approved by a large majority at the referendum held on March 7th 2019 and is now policy which means it is required to be taken account of in any subsequent planning decisions.
Permanent Affordable Housing
The LPR Housing Team has also recently opened discussions with Officers of LDC in charge of Housing and Regeneration to discuss potential sites within Lewes to build affordable housing. This is a significant step forward. There is a great deal of work to be done before we can begin applying for Government funds and fund-raising but we are committed to making a difference.
This is another area of interest for us. We strongly believe that there are fantastic opportunities throughout Lewes, but particularly in North Street, for establishing low cost temporary housing to accommodate those in immediate need of affordable homes, even if it’s only on a temporary basis. The current development plan, as we all know, has stalled and it is now already over 3 years since the planning permission was passed.
We believe that it’s a great missed opportunity for this unused land not to have temporary housing on it until the permanent housing is available.
Bristol City Council is an example of a local authority which has made huge progress with affordable housing options in their city. Read about their initiative here.
We would like to hear your thoughts on what we are doing and whether you support these initiatives.
Do let us have your ideas about how to achieve more Affordable or Meanwhile housing in Lewes.