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Lewes skateboarders defiant in face of Skatehouse closure
11:13am Monday 6th January 2014 in News
An indoor skating facility is rolling on with plans to expand – despite being threatened with demolition.
The Skatehouse lies in the heart of the 150-year-old Phoenix Industrial Estate, Lewes, which is set to make way for the £100 million North Street Quarter redevelopment.
Despite the imminent threat of closure, volunteers want to prove their intent by building up the Skatehouse’s value on a shoestring budget.
They accept they have little influence over site-owner and developer Santon’s plans to create retail, hospitality and commercial units alongside about 350 homes.
But rather than give up, they hope their industry will be recognised and rewarded with new opportunities – within the new quarter or elsewhere in Lewes.
Jack Harris, 29, assistant director and craftsman, said: “This could be our last year but in that time we want to raise the profile of the business and hopefully find a home for the future.
“We’re all fully aware of the situation but we’re carrying on regardless.
“It’s not denial. It’s an experiment; a work in progress. The space might be temporary but the concept is permanent.
“I think it’s far better for kids to be out letting off steam then sat indoors playing computer games.
“It’s a very positive way of building confidence and getting fit.”
The not-for-profit social enterprise, which has survived partly because its “community interest” status gives it business rates relief, has recently produced a business plan with the help of landlord Santon in the hope of proving its community worth.
It is also home to arts and crafts workshops, and is neighbours with community arts hub Zu Studios.
Tenants of the estate hope there will be some space for artistic and creative groups.
Santon said the regeneration will put the area “back at the heart of Lewes” with development to be environmentally, economically and socially sustainable.
During a consultation in September 2013, residents called for independent businesses and affordable housing.
The final proposals are expected to be submitted for consideration early this year.
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