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July 18 2012

LDC statement:

Lewes District Council has moved quickly to secure a £350million investment opportunity for Newhaven to boost economic growth and create jobs, but residents will have the final say.

We have negotiated with Round Table Entertainments Ltd on their proposals for a major leisure development in Newhaven which significantly regenerates the area and unlocks significant economic growth.

As part of the negotiations the Council has made clear that no development will proceed without full public consultation.

Leader of Lewes District Council, Cllr James Page, said: "We want the public to decide on these proposals and indeed discuss how the investment opportunity could benefit them. I feel this is a great opportunity for local residents to set out what they would like from a potential £350million investment in their community."

Up until recently the council had been strictly bound by the developers' requirement for confidentiality, whilst they explored the potential of Newhaven alongside other possible locations.

The purchase of land for a new hotel on the site of Lewes Road Recreation Ground from Lewes District Council has been part of the discussions which have led Round Table Entertainments Ltd to choose Newhaven in preference to other possible locations in the South East of England.

The Council acknowledges that local residents of Newhaven may have had questions that it was unable to answer due to commercial confidentiality.

Cllr Rob Blackman, Lead Member for Business, Economic Development & Tourism said: "We apologise that more information was not forthcoming, but it is not uncommon when negotiations are of such a scale and magnitude that they have to be kept confidential.

"In order to secure the developer's interest in our district we have honoured this and had to move very rapidly. We hope that residents will understand - we are acting completely within the law and now we are very keen to involve residents.

"The views of residents and businesses of Newhaven are vital to this project. We will do this by involving the residents of Newhaven in the project and inviting them to share their ideas as to how the development can also benefit them."

Cllr Page Leader of the Council said: "I am proud that we have won this opportunity for Newhaven over other possible locations in the region. I genuinely hope that residents will provide full and thorough feedback to Round Table Entertainments.

"I have also made it clear that I want to work cross-party with fellow district councillors to ensure we listen to residents' views in on these proposals."

Cllr Steve Saunders, said: "As one of the District Ward Councillors for Newhaven Valley, I was and still remain, disappointed that the residents were unable to be consulted at an earlier stage about the sale of the land at Lewes Road Recreation Ground and the potential loss of such fondly regarded and well-used recreational and amenity land. I am however, aware of the confidentiality requirements of the discussions between the Council and the Developers, which has fostered an air of mistrust.

"I look forward to the promised full consultation occuring from now on, with residents and businesses of Newhaven and other surrounding areas directly affected by the proposals. These proposals will have both far-reaching impacts and opportunities for the residents of the Town and the District as a whole, but Newhaven residents must be the ones that ultimately decide on whether the scheme goes ahead."

Lewes District Council is on track to publish online by the end of July its community engagement programme for the residents of Newhaven.

This will set out how the local community will be engaged and their concerns addressed. Without the support of the local community the proposals for the recreation ground and open space will not go ahead.

Further to this Lewes District Council as the Planning Authority will consider any planning applications that are submitted to the council.

These will be dealt with by the council's Planning Applications Committee. The planning application process will be accompanied by extensive publicity and local consultation before any decisions are made.

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