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September 12 2012.

Jo Pettitt, the organiser of the Newhaven residents meeting concerning the sale of the Lewes Road Rec has received a response from Cllr James Page, (Leader of LDC) to the written comments and questions made in the residents meeting at the end of July.

A date for a second public meeting is planned.

The reply from Cllr Page is reproduced below:


1.    The 'strong leadership' model that has been used in the sale of Lewes Road Recreation Ground has NOT given the local Councillors ANY involvement.  There has NOT been ANY consultation.  I feel the sale without the above involvement strips power away from the Town Councillors and the people living here.

We had to act quickly not to lose this potential opportunity for a significant investment which could create new employment and business in Newhaven. On this occasion, the developer made clear that for its own funding reasons any sale had to be completed by the end of June 2012. There was no scheduled meeting of the Council's Cabinet before that date so the Leader made the decision and did so in full accordance with the Council's procedural rules for urgent decisions (para. 17, page H8 of the Council's Constitution).  The Leader made the decision to sell only after having received an officer report and having considered all public representations received in response to statutory notices placed in The Argus on 6th and 13th June 2012 advertising the proposed sale of the land.

The Leader voluntarily invited the Council's Scrutiny Committee to examine his decision and the way in which he had made it before the sale proceeded. He did not need to do this. The Scrutiny Committee, which is chaired by an Opposition councillor, Cllr Sarah Osborne, found that the decision had been made entirely in accordance with the Council's rules.

The pubic were consulted and as a result of this, the following decisions were taken:

  • The equipped play area has been excluded from the sale
  • The developer has agreed that the recreation ground will remain open to the public for four years
  • The informal land and recreation ground have been sold on a basis that allows them to be returned to the District Council if the scheme proposals do not go ahead and the District Council wishes to take the land back

Local people and businesses will have a number of opportunities to voice their views and shape the development proposals, via Lewes District Council (LDC) consultation (details set out below), developer consultation and via the planning application process, should the project proceed to this stage.  The detail will be available for comment once the developer's feasibility studies are complete (this is anticipated to be in October).  The LDC community engagement programme is as follows: Public Consultation.

 

 

2.    Once again the people of Newhaven have not been consulted properly on things that affect us.  First the incinerator, then we lost out wonderful beach, now our recreation ground.  What is the next plan that we will find out about after it has already happened?

 

ESCC coordinated the consultation on the Energy Recovery Facility.  Equally, LDC are not connected with the issues related to West Beach and so cannot comment on the consultation procedures surrounding both of these.  For more information on the issues relating to West Beach, please contact Newhaven Town Council, ESCC and The Port Authority.

 

In relation to the recreation ground, the pubic were consulted and as a result of this, the following decisions were taken:

  • The equipped play area has been excluded from the sale
  • The developer has agreed that the recreation ground will remain open to the public for four years

·         The informal land and recreation ground have been sold on a basis that allows them to be returned to the District Council if the scheme proposals do not go ahead and the District Council wishes to take the land back

 

 

3.    Has Lewes Road Rec' actually been sold or has an option been bought on the land?

The recreation ground has been sold.  The developer has agreed that the recreation land will be available to residents for four years.  During this time, the developer will conduct feasibility studies and full public consultation that will take place over many months.  After the feasibility and consultation, the developer will decide whether or not to submit a planning application.  LDC has retained the right to buy back the recreation ground should the leisure scheme not go ahead. 

 

 

4.    We all want to see Newhaven blossom - but not in this way.  The underhand procedures and suspicions of backhanders are appalling.  Newhaven could echo Dieppe - café's/shops along the front, music etc.  But first and foremost, the one-way system has strangled the town itself.  It must go.  Roundtable, NO!  Is Seine Maritime involved?

 

Please see response to Qu 1 for questions relating to why and how the land was sold.

 

Regeneration of Newhaven is a key priority for LDC.  Dieppe had significant public funding that has not been available for Newhaven.  In light of this, private sector investment is important to the regeneration of Newhaven, if it is right for the town.  This is why LDC is facilitating full public consultation.  LDC is working with ESSC, who have the transport responsibility, about transport and public realm improvements and the ring road is part of this discussion.

 

I am not clear about your reference to Seine Maritime and their involvement. Please could you clarify this?

 

 

5.    I deplore the lack of communication and the 'strong leader' approach.  However, we should not get bogged down in this - the land is SOLD.  We should concentrate on evaluating what is potentially the best thing which could happen to Newhaven.  The devil will be in the detail of the proposed plans which should be published as quickly as possible and before the project goes any further.  We should support this project - providing it is done properly with proper consultation - as bringing employment and tourism to the town (which is badly needed).

 

Please see response to Qu 1 for questions relating to why and how the land was sold.

 

The Leader's powers at Lewes District Council (LDC) are no different to the powers of a Leader at any other Council operating a Leader and Cabinet executive.  The "Strong Leader" model must, as a matter of law, be operated by all Councils that have a Leader and Cabinet executive.

People will have a number of opportunities to have their views heard, via LDC engagement programme (dates set out below), developer consultation and via the planning application process, should the project proceed to this stage.  The detail will be available for comment once the developer feasibility studies are complete (October). 

Key dates in LDC's engagement programme are:

August 2012 - Background work to finalise the community engagement plan

September 2012 - Structure for conversations and Cross- Party Working group in place

October 2012 - Start of Newhaven Town engagement work

January 2013 - Publication of early findings

Without the support of the local community, any proposals for the recreation ground and open space will not go ahead.  Further to this, LDC as the Planning Authority will consider any planning applications that are submitted. These will be dealt with by the Council's Planning Applications Committee.  The planning application process will be accompanied by extensive publicity and formal local consultation before any decision is made.

 

 

6.    A very successful and well attended meeting (about 180) BUT little progress could be made in the absence of any knowledge of what is planned.  Regeneration of an area cannot be carried out in a piecemeal fashion, and the fate of 'the hotel site', described as part of a larger scheme on various sites in and around Newhaven cannot be considered in isolation.  Another meeting is needed AFTER Norman Baker has pressed for and received FULL DISCLOSURE.

 

We want to see significant and cohesive investment which is why the Council acted to secure the potential investment of £350 million.

 

Lewes District Council are not withholding detailed plans, the development is not at this stage.  The developer is currently working up a feasibility study of a number of options in Newhaven which will be released in October.  This will then give members of the public the opportunity to inform and shape the nature of this investment via the Lewes District Council engagement programme, developer consultation and also through the planning process, should the developers submit an application.

 

I am not clear what you mean when you make comment about Norman Baker pressing for full disclosure.  Information available to the Council about the development, which is at a feasibility stage, has been shared.  

 

 

7.    Newhaven is gradually being sold off and taken away from the people who have no say in how this happens, and it seems for ridiculous amounts of money.  Bought by people outside of the town with no thought about the people and what they would like.

 

The developer bought the recreation ground at full market value on the basis of its extant planning use i.e. informal recreation land.   It was valued by independent valuers on behalf of the Council.   The value reflects the fact that the land as sold is subject to restrictive covenants which prevent the development of the land and the purchaser will need to negotiate the release of these covenants. 

 

The community will be given every opportunity to inform and shape the nature of the proposed investment via our engagement programme, developer consultation and through the planning process should a planning application be submitted. 

 

We want to see Newhaven grow in a way that provides for the needs and wants of the community whilst also being economically sustainable.

 

 

8.    We support development in Newhaven, but this has been handled so badly by the council.  We have no faith that James Page and Lewes District Council will take residents' views into account and represent us.

 

Please see response to Qu 1 for questions relating to why and how the land was sold.

 

Cllr James Page has made it clear that he wishes to work cross-party with fellow district councillors to ensure that residents' views are heard on this subject.  Cllr Page has contacted the Leader of the Opposition to invite this working arrangement. 

 

People will have a number of opportunities to inform and shape the nature of the proposed investment, via the LDC engagement programme, developer consultation and via the planning application process should the project proceed to this stage.  More detail will be available once the developer feasibility studies are complete (October).  

 

9.    We need infrastructure, we need another bridge, we need Newhaven to happen, we need investment, we need big minded people to bring big things -should go ahead subject to what plans are put forward.

 

Infrastructure must be considered as part of the developer feasibility studies.  If a planning application is then submitted, such infrastructure will be considered as part of the planning process. 

 

Investment is needed in Newhaven and other parts of the District and this is why 'Attracting Investment' is one of our 5 key regeneration priorities as detailed in our strategy 'Building a Brighter Future'

 

 

10. I cannot see how any of what has been proposed will help the town I moved to 9 years ago.  I am horrified by how this situation has unfolded without consultation - there was unprecedented objection to the incinerator and we still have to live with it...

 

Please see response to Qu 1 for questions relating to why and how the land was sold.

We cannot comment on the consultation process surrounding the Energy Recovery Facility as this falls under the jurisdiction of East Sussex County Council. 

 

11. Was the process legal and is the 'strong leader' model legal? Are there not policies in the existing local plan that would not be in accordance with planned development on this site?  What about the status as 'SNCI'?  What about infrastructure? Is also adjacent to South Downs NP - settings are protected.  Veolia money from incinerator to enhance this open space - what happened to it?

 

The process was legal.  The Strong Leader Model must, as a matter of law, be operated by all Councils which have a Leader and Cabinet executive.  LDC is no different to any other such Council in this respect.

 

We had to act quickly not to lose this potential opportunity for a significant investment in Newhaven.  Please see response to Qu 1 for questions relating to why and how the land was sold.

Should an application for development be put forward on the Lewes Road Recreation site then it would be required to satisfy the requirements of Local Plan policy RE2.  This policy resists the loss of existing outdoor playing space unless sports and recreation facilities can be best retained and enhanced through the redevelopment of a small part of the site, or alternative provision made available. 

 

The site itself is not designated as an SNCI, although the land to the north and east is.  Being adjacent to an SNCI does not rule out the principle of development on a site.

 

Proposed developments cannot be ruled out in principle on the basis that the site can be viewed from the National Park and/or views can be obtained from the site into the National Park.  Any development would need to consider this issue at the detailed design stage.

 

Infrastructure must be considered as part of the developer feasibility studies and any detailed planning application.

 

ESCC are the authority responsible for all things pertaining to the Energy Recovery Facility (ErF).  They have provided the following statement but if you require further information, please contact Andy Arnold who is the Team Manager Environmental Advice Andy.Arnold@eastsussex.gov.uk.

 

 "As part of the planning permission for the Energy Recovery Facility (ErF) development on North Quay, ESCC has a legal obligation under a Section 106 Agreement to provide mitigatory compensation for the visual impact of the ErF development due to its size and location within Newhaven and on the edge of the National Park.   This entails off-site strategic tree planting and associated landscape works within the urban fringe and public open spaces within Newhaven, to screen the ErF from those whose view would be affected, where practicable.   ESCC has developed planting proposals which have been agreed with Officers and/or Members of Newhaven Town Council, South Heighton Parish Council, Piddinghoe Parish Council, Lewes District Council, local County Councillors, the South Downs National Park Authority, Natural England and the Environment Agency.   Some of the planting was carried out earlier this year and is covered by a legal agreement between ESCC and the relevant land owners.   Further planting will take place during the winter of 2012-13, subject to the agreement of the relevant land owners."

 

 

12. I am concerned that a hotel/casino/night club development is NOT appropriate within a residential area.  I am concerned too that an allocation of a section of hotel may be for DHSS accommodation for Brighton city's homeless.  This development will cause noise and light pollution within the entire Valley ward.

 

All of these points and concerns can be raised through our community engagement programme.  There will also be the opportunity to inform and shape the nature of the investment in Newhaven after the developer feasibility work has been completed.  This is anticipated to be in October.  Should the developer submit a planning application, the community have the opportunity to become involved in the official planning consultation. 

 

As part of the planning process, the developer and their agents, when making a planning application would submit a range of supporting documents, including specialist reports relating to environmental issues such as air quality, contaminated land, noise and lighting.   These documents and the evidence they contain would be scrutinised by the Council's Environmental Health Team to assess the level of impact and whether or not mitigation is required.  Any assessment would have regard to national standards and the existing local environment.

 

 

13. We wise adults should ask the young people what they would like.  I doubt it would be a casino or hotel.  It would, I'm sure, be SPORTS.

 

Young people will be able to inform and shape the nature of this investment via our community engagement programme, developer consultation and as part of the official planning consultation, should the developer submit an application.    

 

 

14. The whole thing stinks.  Lack of transparency and secrecy denotes something going on meaning there is a large gap between the perception of what will happen and what will happen in reality.

 

15. Secrecy issue begs the question: what is the agenda for Newhaven?

 

Response to Qu 14 and 15.

LDC agreed to honour the developer's request for confidentiality.  This was whilst the developers explored the potential of Newhaven alongside other possible locations.  Confidentiality is commonplace during commercial discussions of such scale and magnitude and honouring such a request no doubt aided LDC in securing the potential £350m investment.  

 

Please see response to Qu 1 for questions relating to why and how the land was sold. 

 

 

16. 84K?  Way too low - does make me think there's an ulterior motive.  350 million pound development? Tourist attraction?  - This is Newhaven.  It will be opposite an incinerator we didn't want but also industrial sites - not really a tourist attraction so why would they invest that amount of money?  We weren't consulted on this particular development and in the Town Council consultation; everyone wanted recreational facilities - kid's park, cycle path.  Kept very quiet, seems unlawful to me.  For 84K, why weren't residents asked to buy it?  I love Newhaven, it's not a dump, and we need to be respected.  I agree we need some development but we need consulting and respecting.

 

Please see response to question 7 in relation to the value and selling price of the land.

 

The developer will consider visitor numbers to their attraction in their feasibility study and business planning process.  They are unlikely to invest in a scheme that is not commercially viable. 

 

People will have a number of opportunities to inform and shape the nature of the proposed investment, via the LDC engagement programme, developer consultation and via the planning application process should the project proceed to this stage.  More detail will be available once the developer feasibility studies are complete (October).  

 

17. It's appalling that the land has been sold, disgusting.  What about my young daughter if there's a casino and disco, to have to see the things that go on outside of these institutes?

 

There will be an opportunity to inform and shape the nature of the proposed investment in Newhaven.  This is via our own engagement programme, developer consultation and through the planning process, should a planning application be submitted.

 

 

18. Secrecy issue begs the question: what is the agenda for Newhaven?  We need to know and should demand to know.

 

The Council's Regeneration Strategy 'Building a Brighter Future' sets out our plans for the Lewes District including Newhaven. 

 

LDC agreed to honour the developer's request for confidentiality.  This was whilst the developers 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.

We have moved quickly to secure a £350 million investment opportunity to boost economic growth and create jobs, but residents will have the final say.  When the developer feasibility study is complete, more information on the potential development will be available. 

 

There will be an opportunity to inform and shape the nature of the proposed investment through our own engagement programme, developer consultation and the planning process, should a planning application be submitted.

 

 

19. It seems the majority are against the development.  What then can we actively do about it?

 

Please get fully involved in our own engagement programme, developer consultation and through the planning process, should a planning application be submitted.  Before this it is difficult to know what the overall view of residents is.

 

 

20. If one person in a private company railroaded the sale of this piece of land for this price there would be a police inquiry.  Oppose the sale and if that fails, oppose all developments.  Hotel, Casino etc. may just be a smokescreen.  Public rights of way?

 

Please see response to question 7 in relation to the value and selling price of the land.

 

There will be an opportunity to pass these comments on through our own engagement programme, developer consultation and through the planning process, should a planning application be submitted.

 

 

21. The whole thing has been done wrongly.  The meeting was very informative.  The young girl who spoke says it all really - she is one of many children who need the rec.  Plus the wildlife issue is also an important one.  Please don't take the rec away.

 

We will work with Newhaven Town Council and others to look for alternative locations for local people.   We understand the importance of the Lewes Road equipped play area and have excluded this from the sale.  The community will be able to feed in their preferences through our own public engagement programme, developer consultation and through the planning process, should a planning application be submitted.

 

22. Who would build a water park when Newhaven is nowhere near a large population?  The key must be the casino.

 

The developer will consider visitor catchment areas and numbers in relation to their attraction in their feasibility study and business planning process.  They are unlikely to invest in a scheme that is not commercially viable.

 

 

23. How can a piece of land be sold without public consultation for £84,000 for recreational use and then put a hotel/waterpark on it?  It's not what the residents of Newhaven want.  Why weren't residents asked?

 

Please see response to question 7 in relation to the value and selling price of the land.

 

Please see response to Qu 1 for questions relating to why and how the land was sold.

There will be an opportunity to inform and shape the nature of the proposed investment through our own engagement programme, developer consultation and through the planning process, should a planning application be submitted.



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