European Regional Development Fund

New “Eco” Home for Lewes’s Soap Factory Starts to Take Shape

Tuesday 04th July 2017

Lewes’ North Street Quarter scheme reaches another milestone as the new building for John Gosnell on Malling Brooks Industrial Estate begins to take shape.

The team from Merit on site at Malling Brooks where the new eco building for John Gosnell is going up

The team from Merit on site at Malling Brooks where the new eco building for John Gosnell is going up

Known locally as “the soap factory”, John Gosnell is currently located on the Phoenix Industrial Estate, an area that is being regenerated under the North Street Quarter scheme.  This £180m development will provide 400 homes and workshop and retail units for artisan businesses, as well as an opportunity for larger businesses like John Gosnell to relocate. This will also provide the cosmetics and home fragrances manufacturer with custom-built premises for the first time in its 340 year history.

Clive Wilding, Director of Santon North Street, which along with Lewes District Council, is developing North Street Quarter, said: “This is a major regeneration programme for Lewes which will create employment opportunities and boost the town’s economy.

“The scope of the scheme not only provides space for new businesses, but also offers development opportunities for existing businesses like John Gosnell, so they have security and the potential to expand without having to leave Lewes.  Construction of their unit at Malling Brooks is underway and they will be ready to move in at the end of the year.”

The new factory is being constructed by Merit Holdings which specialises in building “clean manufacturing” premises for the cosmetic industry.  The two storey, 20,000 square foot unit features sustainable elements to make it as energy efficient as possible. These include solar panels and a “green” sedum roof planted with meadow grass and flowers. This cover of vegetation helps to manage water run-off and provides insulation. 

John Gosnell’s Managing Director Chris Warner is the fourth generation of his family to run the business. He said that the move to Malling Brooks means that the company can not only stay in Lewes but also expand.

“We don’t take moving lightly – this is only the sixth time we’ve moved in 340 years,” he said. “Most of our employees are from Lewes and have been for generations, so staying in the town is really important for us. But we need better premises if the business is to continue to thrive.

“This is the first time we’ve designed our own building from the ground up. Its structure means that we can exceed the rigorous standards required for manufacturing and packing our products, and allows us to extend the range, expand the business and employ more people.”

North Street Quarter will bring considerable assets to the town, including:

•   243 of the 416 houses of which 40% (165) are affordable homes

•   A new health centre serving 26,000 patients

•   A public car park with 330 spaces

•   A business/retail extension of Market Street for creative industries

The scheme will also carry out extensive works on the River Ouse, which runs alongside part of North Street Quarter. Flood defences to protect both this area and the Pells will be constructed. As well as completing the town’s flood defences, the development will create new public access to the river with a footbridge and a riverside promenade on two levels. This will provide Lewes with a new and unique riverside leisure area, for residents and visitors to enjoy.

Councillor Andy Smith, Leader of Lewes District Council, said: “I’m pleased to see the progress on John Gosnell’s new home, which is a significant step in preparing the North Street Quarter site for development.

“It’s fitting that one of the town’s oldest businesses will soon be located in the town’s newest, most ecologically advanced building and is a reflection of how North Street Quarter will benefit Lewes as a whole. 

“I am confident that the North Street Quarter scheme will give new local businesses the opportunity to achieve the same longevity and success as John Gosnell and I am absolutely delighted that a business that has been part of the commercial fabric of Lewes for generations, now has the opportunity to increase its presence in the town even further, not least by employing more local people.”  

To find out more about the North Street Quarter, please click this link.