Lewes district – mobilising council assets, decarbonising supply chains

Breakout session: 3.15pm

Behind the plaudits for the “Preston model” lies a fundamental truth about community wealth building: there is no one way to do it. The power of the approach lies in its flexibility to local context and conditions. In these breakout sessions we will delve into the experience of places – who are at different stages in their community wealth building “journey”, in rural and urban contexts, with different challenges and enablers – to draw out the lessons that can be applied to your place.

Lewes is the county town of East Sussex in south east England. While the town and rural hinterlands to its north are relatively affluent, the outlying areas of the district and those areas adjoining the south coast experience high levels of deprivation.

Lewes District Council put the twin goals of community wealth building and sustainable transition from fossil fuels at the heart of its Corporate Plan in 2019. The Covid-19 pandemic has given renewed impetus to this work, with the Council collaborating with CLES and local partners to seize the moment to build back a socially and environmentally sustainable local economy. These plans are heavily focused on mobilising council assets – including land, property and council housing investment – to shape and grow businesses and organisations which will create economic opportunities and lifelines to the people of Lewes.

This session will be useful for those interested in utilising community wealth building ideas and practice to build a greener economy and for those with an interest in how the approach can work in the relatively prosperous south east of England.


Cllr Zoe Nicholson, Deputy Leader, Lewes District Council

Zoe became Deputy Leader of Lewes District Council in early 2020. She is Leader of the Green Party group in the Co-operative Alliance who control the Council. Before then, she was Chief Executive of a social enterprise in Brighton that delivers NHS services to a million people and has worked in health care for nearly 30 years.

Dick Shone, Managing Director, Boutique Modern

Dick is Managing Director of Boutique Modern, a progressive, modular building company that places purpose and sustainability at the heart of their operations. They work with local authorities and housing associations to address the housing shortage across the South of England by to delivering high quality, sustainable social housing.

Gail Rowe, Senior Electric Vehicle Business Development and Town Planning Manager, Liberty Charge

Gail is an urban planner/regeneration/enterprise specialist with over 15 years experience of project and programme development & management. She has a detailed knowledge of regeneration, urban, community & neighbourhood planning, labour markets, business and enterprise, economic policy, project design/delivery, data interpretation and analysis.

Her expertise is applied to a diverse portfolio of projects and programmes within the public sector but also interfacing with the private and voluntary sector. Gail has also worked for the national housing charity MHA, Lambeth Council and a number of cooperatives including South London Bakers and Balham Food and Book. Gail also has experience of working in the private sector and has worked for a number of large international law firms.

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