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October 19 2012.

We were unable to attend last night's Lewes Road Rec Residents Meeting, but Councillor Steve Saunders has kindly sent Haven News his overview of the meeting:

The meeting was again well attended, with public representatives from Newhaven, Seaford, South Heighton and Piddinghoe.

The meeting was again excellently chaired by Jo Pettitt, who was thanked by everyone for arranging this and the previous meeting. Along with myself and Cllr. Julie Carr who attended the last Public Meeting at Lewes Road Hut, were Cllrs. James Page and Rob Blackman, Jenny Rowlands, the Chief Executive, Nilam Popat, (Corporate Head of Communities and Enterprise), and other officers from Regeneration and Media departments at LDC, as well as three members of the project team from KEH and a member of the democratic office.

The meeting itself was more settled than the previous meeting, although questions were still raised as to the processes around the sale and consultation with the community, which raised the temperature briefly.

James Page reiterated earlier comments over the legality of the decision and the speed at which it occurred. He added that he had to make a difficult decision and that he would be held accountable at any future election - Although of course, it would be the people of his native Telscombe who will actually decide his fate on that date.
Jenny Rowlands also explained in depth, the proceedures and processes involved in the sale of the land.

KEH explained the consultation process it has planned, including a soft launch on 30/31st October at The Hillcrest Cantre in Newhaven and renting a shop in the town for several months to inform and consult with the community during the planning process. KEH also updated the meeting about the land acquisition it had engaged in so far and the consultation with local businesses and stakeholders it has undertaken to date. Discussions with the University over the proposed UTC and provision of a lecturer in Pump Engineering and securing 25% of the work on the project for East Sussex firms were also explained.

Mr. Roger Foxwell, a local farmer and landowner, quizzed the developers on the areas involved and questioned the amounts quoted and the viability of the site proposed, with some amusement to the gathered members of the public.
Other residents raised issues over the traffic, planned site for the hotel and a real need in the town for sports facilities, that had already been identified by previous council administrations.
I assured the audience that for mine and Julie's part, we would continue to ensure that the consultation process was followed as promised by the developers and the District Council administration and that we are taking them both at their word, when they say that 'If the people of Newhaven do not want it, they won't have to have it'.

Whilst we realise that there are a myriad of pro's and con's associated with the scheme, the impact on the local residents of traffic congestion, noise and of course the visual impact, will need to be weighed up against the benefits of employment, increased visitor numbers and raising the town's profile to assist in regeneration.

I gave the example I had raised by one local resident who works in the city and enjoys coming home to the relative quiet and solitude of Newhaven. This resident is now faced with fighting his way through the throngs of people leaving the proposed park and having to wait until 10pm before the lights go out and the noise dies down.

I'm sure that the developers will be working hard to mitigate these problems, but the promise of entrance fee reductions for townsfolk and free days for local school children will not win over many objectors. Those residents in favour of the scheme, when it finally reaches the masterplan stage, may outnumber those against, but I would urge as many people to engage in the consultation as possible, to ensure the majority voice of the town is heard. We will then see if the vision of prosperity and regeneration that the Developers and the District Council administration would have us believe, or the promise of, 'If we don't want it, we don't have to have it', will come to pass.

We have received the great news of the Rampion Windfarm coming to Newhaven recently and developments at Eastside will be decided soon. The interest shown by KEH is, if nothing else, another welcome sign that Newhaven is worth investing in. I am grateful for the interest they are showing in the Town and the commitment they are showing to a full consultation with local people.

Steve Saunders