New fire station plan ‘unlocks a once in a lifetime development’

Cabinet councillors yesterday put the seal on plans to develop a new fire station and ambulance response base on the vacant Springman House site in North Street.

The co-location of both emergency services will enable the old fire station within the North Street Quarter site to close and allow the £180million North Street Quarter (NSQ) development to be delivered.

NSQ will transform the site beyond recognition with a new state of the art health centre serving over 26,000 patients, 416 new homes – 165 of which will be affordable – and 140,000 sq. ft of new commercial space including subsidised creative workspace. Work will be undertaken to complete the town’s flood defences, a new riverside promenade, footbridge, cycle paths, underground car parking and a public square hosting contemporary eateries and riverside dining. Some 475 full-time jobs will be created, plus 100 full-time construction roles.

Councillor Bill Giles, Cabinet Lead for Finance, said:

“Our decision today unlocks a once in a lifetime development that will bring benefits to Lewes that will be enjoyed for generations.

“So much hard work has gone into the planning, project management and design of NSQ, and with this agreement on Springman House, a key piece of the jigsaw is secured and the transformation takes a big stride forward.”

The wider benefits of NSQ are being felt across the district with the recent opening of a new £200,000 skatepark in Malling Fields, work progressing on relocating existing businesses to the Malling Brooks Industrial Estate, the final stages of the public consultation into the upgrade of Pells Recreation Ground and Malling Fields taking place in July and the relocation of Lewes Skatehouse to Denton Island in Newhaven.

Councillor Giles added:
“In addition to East Sussex Fire & Rescue (ESFRS) and South East Coast Ambulance (SECAmb) Service each establishing an operational base at the Springman House site, which is outside of the flood risk zone, a future opportunity also exists to increase the co-location ‘blue light’ emergency services there as Sussex Police currently occupy the neighbouring building.”

The Council was successful in securing a £2 million grant from the Coast to Capital Local Economic Partnership towards cost of purchasing the Springman House site, along with £90K of funding from the One Public Estate initiative.  Detailed plans will now be drawn up in consultation with the users of the new base before a planning application is submitted. 

ESFRS will take freehold ownership of the new facility when it is built and in turn they will transfer the freehold of the old fire station within the NSQ to Lewes District Council.

Chief Fire Officer Dawn Whittaker said: “We are pleased that the proposals are progressing. It will be beneficial for emergency services to be based side by side - we already work very closely together and this will help build even stronger relationships.”

SECAmb Regional Operations Manager James Pavey said: “We welcome the opportunity of this partnership working and the development of a new Ambulance Community Response Post close to our current ambulance station. The base will provide staff with a place, with facilities, to rest between calls or while on a break.”

Story published on 10 July 2017