Resilience is a concept fundamental to the Transition model and means
the ability to withstand unexpected external shocks and still retain
integrity. If you are flood-resilient, for example, you can be flooded,
yet still retain your ability to function normally, perhaps because your
building is waterproof at the ground floor level or, like the Linklater
Centre, is designed so that the ground floor can be temporarily
abandoned to the flood waters.

Resilience in the broader sense
means the ability to support ourselves through the various kinds of
downturn – locally, nationally and globally – that are approaching. Most
people are under the impression that things are going to return to
normal when the government gets its act together and we get back into
economic growth. The current owner of the North Street industrial area,
Santon, is planning a development based on that assumption. But we in
the Transition movement have a very different view of the what’s coming.

We see the future in terms of Environment, Energy and Economy.
Environmental impacts on the UK will include more extreme weather and
rising sea levels the combination of which will make food production
more precarious. There will also be the impact of dirty technologies,
such as shale exploitation and coal bed methane and the resumption of
coal mining.

Energy impacts are connected to more expensive oil
and gas extraction as conventional sources decline, which they began to
do in 2006. This has a knock-on effect on industry and transport and the
economy generally, the higher cost of imported goods making everything
more expensive with wages unable to keep pace. And again on food because
of fertilizers, pesticides, trucking and refrigeration.

A
growth economy is dependent on two things: money creation by private
interests through the creation of debt and a constant supply of
resources to feed consumption. Neither of those factors look viable in
the medium to long term.

We will be seeing more and more
government cuts both national and local as the economy fails to get back
into growth. We will be seeing more bank and business failures and the
inability of central government to supply basic needs, which is why they
must be met locally and by community action. This is not a new
scenario, it’s actually how things used to be before the discovery of
supposedly infinite supplies of cheap energy in the form of oil. That
age is now passing and we must recalibrate our view of the next 50
years, because it won’t be anything like the last 50 years.

We
will see an increase in the divide between rich and poor. We will see a
loss of livelihoods as the banking system hoovers up money in
circulation as well as massive government handouts to keep it going. We
will see an increase in extreme weather due to more heat energy in the
atmosphere as a result of global warming. That won’t necessarily mean
that the UK will be warmer. The Jet Stream being forced further south
has brought cold air from the Arctic keeping us cool and wet especially
in the winter. We will also experience higher wind speeds. These
conditions will adversely affect food production.

All this
signifies that it would be a good idea to prepare now, in advance, for a
future that is not going to return to normal. That’s what the
Transition project is all about.

The Lewes District Local Plan takes no account of any of the above because its scope is limited to town planning, it’s based on past growth patterns and it too is apparently under the impression that things will return to normal.

My view on North Street is that it should be left alone
to develop organically and that tough requirements for flood resilience,
energy efficiency, renewable energy, water conservation, green space,
cycle storage and so on should be required by our local planning
committee as it’s developed, building by building. This would be the
resilience approach. Not the economic approach of course, that’s quite
different as we know, because our current economic model is the opposite
of resilient.

My fear is that, when the North Street
development plan finally emerges, it will be evident that Santon has
effectively ignored all the worthy proposals from all stakeholders and
community groups in Lewes, including TTL. Since Clive Wilding, the
Santon front man, has already said that his bottom line is profit and
that it will cost him tens of millions to clean up the site and flood
proof it, he is unlikely to do anything but the basic requirements, and
the cheapest and least imaginative building. No zero carbon buildings, no renewable energy generation, no green spaces, no low energy transport, just tight little residential boxes, shopping mall units and offices, with a slight nod in the direction of affordable housing and local vernacular. It’s
at that point that we will have to start mounting a vigorous opposition.