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Lewes Community Land Trust

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The Santon Group buys the Phoenix

The santon GroupIn February 2012 London based property developer The Santon Group together with Joint Venture Partner MAS plc, an investment company managed by Artisan Real Estate, purchased a 14.5 acre high-profile mixed-use redevelopment project in Lewes, formerly known as the Phoenix Estate, from the Joint Administrators to the four companies that previously owned the land.

The Santon Group of companies are the main vehicle for the property activities of Bim Sandhu, former Chief Executive and co-founder in 2003 of Raven Mount plc, which was taken over in 2009 by Raven Russia Limited, a company which he also co-founded and listed on AIM in July 2005.

The Phoenix Quarter was bought from administrators at Grant Thornton, who were appointed in 2009 to Terracotta Properties and three associated companies, Angel Property (Lewes), Terracotta Properties (Riverside) and Terracotta Properties (Malling Brooks).

The debt on the scheme totalled £15.5m, £13.4m of which was owed to a division of Anglo Irish Bank (now Irish Bank Resolution Corporation), and then sold to NAMA (Ireland’s National Asset Management Agency).

Santon paid “substantially less” than the debt and a statement filed at Companies House in March last year shows the directors expected the site to fetch £6.75m.

North Street Quarter

Six hundred homes were proposed at the site within the area’s Local Plan, although Santon is likely to scale this down further and include around 65,000 sq ft of retail and leisure and 20,000 sq ft of offices.

An application for a scheme with an estimated value of £100m is expected in the next year, and work is scheduled to start in early 2014.

The land is within a flood plain and the new owners will have to make protection provisions for the scheme.

The site is occupied by the 160,000 sq ft Phoenix Industrial Estate, which will be transferred to a nearby 6.5 acre site (Malling Brooks East) that was bought as part of the deal, the development of which has been accelerated after being awarded £1.2m from the Government's Growing Places Fund in June 2012.

Santon's representative on this project is Property Director Clive Wilding.

The Phoenix Site

 Text & image above are extracts from The Santon Group website. All copyright acknowledged & respected.

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To look through all the news, visit our News Archive page.

 Riverside Walk (artist's impression)

For many years the proposed "Phoenix Quarter" was seen either as a welcome and much needed facelift for a rundown industrial estate or as a threat of inappropriate development right in the heart of our community. Permission has now been granted for Santon and LDC to develop it. Let's grasp that opportunity and make it a success!

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