Fifty businesses, dozens of workshops, 450 jobs
You will have been aware for some time that if the Santon/LDC plan is accepted, dozens of small businesses, workshops, social and youth enterprises will be homeless this winter when their workspace on the Phoenix Estate is bulldozed.
It is now apparent that the larger local businesses on North Street are also facing closure.
Among them, Compass Travel – which provides half a million rural bus trips per year from its Phoenix depot – the North Street Garage, Furniture Now, The Dance Academy and Back to the Grain have all spoken out saying they cannot afford the five-fold rent increases or exorbitant land prices at the ‘relocation’ site – the yet-to-be-built Malling Brooks Industrial Park, also owned by Santon.
Chris Chatfield of Compass Travel says: “Over the past two years, we have approached Santon and their agents to discuss this situation but they have not come back to us. If Malling Brooks is the only alternative available to us, we would be forced to close our East Sussex routes, with the potential loss of up to 35 jobs plus, of course, the huge impact the withdrawal of our services will have on rural communities.“
Dave Ryan of North Street Garage says: “We have come to a complete full stop in our discussions with Santon. The space they are offering is much smaller, five times the price and has bad access. We simply can’t afford to move there and the future of the garage is now seriously at risk.”
This sentiment was echoed by Wendy Baker of The Dance Academy: “We have been offered a serviced plot for £175,000 on which we’d have to build from scratch. This is completely beyond our capabilities. We have been told by Oakleys Commercial, on behalf of Santon, that they are only interested in big corporates at Malling Brooks.”
It is quite clear that in addition to pursuing our alternative plans for the Phoenix to house many of the smaller businesses in the renovated Ironworks buildings and provide genuinely affordable homes, we must also fight for affordable premises for the larger Lewes businesses we are in imminent danger of losing.
Do you want to help? Then tell everyone what is happening and spread the word about Lewes Phoenix Rising.
Write to: the press: email@example.com, your councillor: (insertname)@lewes.gov.uk, the planning authority: South Downs National Park stephen.cantwell@southdowns.