BBM are currently working on a redevelopment of the Dripping Pan football ground, home of Lewes Community Football Club, ‘The Rooks’ which has been based at this site since its foundation in 1885. The Club converted into a not-for-profit Community Benefit Society (CBS) in 2010 and a community share scheme was launched which put the ownership of the club completely into the hands of what is now around 1000 (and rising) mostly local shareholders, placing the club at the very heart of the local community. Each member/owner can only own one share, no matter how much they paid for it and every share carries one vote – the club’s Board is democratically elected. Though this community ownership model is the norm in Germany, Sweden and is the same one used by FC Barcelona, Lewes FC is one of a handful of football clubs pioneering this approach in the UK.
Lewes FC is now governed and guided by a Constitution that enshrines the club’s main function as being to bring benefit to its local community. The stated aims of the client are to regenerate the Dripping Pan site for the wider benefit of the whole community (as well as the football teams who play there), including people with disabilities, reflecting their ethos and motto “Our Club is your Club”. In effect, the ground will be returned to the widespread community usage that it offered for much of its early history.
The intention is to transform what is currently (and typically for a football ground) a site that is only used on a few occasions per week into a multi-functioning community hub combining sports usage with arts and media functions, and bringing together local businesses and young people to allow cross-fertilization of these diverse activities. The development targets in particular the youth sector of Lewes and the surrounding area by providing (in its second phase) a much-needed local venue for multi-media activities (music, theatre, TV and dance) and will provide a home for SYNC (Sussex Youth Network Centre). The location of the Dripping Pan ground in such close proximity to Lewes Priory School and Sussex Downs College is considered ideal for these youth-targeted aspects of the programme.
The general design objectives are to deliver a scheme that:
– provides new high quality, functional and flexible spaces that enrich and complement the existing site usage, achieving connectivity between the existing buildings;
– broadens the use and accessibility of the site to accommodate community-oriented organisations and youth-oriented initiatives;
– improves the Club facilities and the visitors’ match day experience;
– consolidates and keys into the existing multi-sports, educational and recreational facilities in the Mountfield Road/Priory vicinity;
– achieves high sustainability credentials and affords a low/neutral carbon use of the site, whilst setting high quality design standards to meet the aspirations of the Club;
– provides for improved accessibility with improved on-site parking and cycle parking;
– considers opportunities for the exhibition of relics from the nearby Priory Remains and the hosting of community events.
The first phase of the proposals- for a new clubhouse – has just been submitted for a full Planning application. Work has now begun on following phases.