FRIENDS OF RIVERSIDE PARK - NEWS UPDATE
July 23 2014.
Jo Pettitt writes:
Newhaven’s neighbourhood plan consultation is underway and local residents are having their say on, amongst other things, what they’d like to see in the town’s open spaces. In addition to the questions asked by Newhaven Town Council, residents have also been asked to respond to a group of additional questions from ESCC regarding Riverside Park.
ESCC, who own the Northern part of the land and manage the emissions from the historic tip site, have asked locals’ views on having up to one third of Riverside Park used as a solar park to generate income to pay for the maintenance of the rest of the site. This could be a controversial issue and it is difficult to respond to their question without further information.
If it means that the remaining incinerator 106 money could be re-designated to Riverside Park and spent on raising and draining the rec’ so that it can be used as a playing field, then maybe. If it means that some of the leisure and community facilities that locals have been asking for could be realised, then that could be good. If the panels are situated so that impact on people, wildlife and habitats is minimal, then perhaps. Panels are on stilts in the wetland area, for example, might be less intrusive than installing a large block of panels right in the middle of the site.
ESCC have assured us that they will also be taking the outcomes of the community consultation we held last September into consideration before making any decisions and it will be interesting to see how they proceed.
Another person apparently interested in Riverside Park is John Summers of Trafalgar Group. Trafalgar Group is a private equity firm specialising in the real estate and strategic land sector. John Summers is a sponsor of Newhaven Football Club and spoke briefly to the Newhaven Town Council on 15th July about his possible interest in developing 6 to 7 acres of Riverside Park. It wasn’t clear from what he said exactly what he had in mind for the site but he did mention a “training pitch with stadium” for NFC.
Friends of Riverside Park, who attended the meeting, were, along with a number of Councillors it seemed, a little confused by this. We were left wondering why Newhaven Football club might need two football stadiums when there is plenty of potential to develop and improve the existing ground at Fort Road. Or perhaps John Summers has another plan in mind for the space at Fort Road?
We weren’t permitted to speak in the meeting but I did ask the Council at the start to assure us that it still supports our aim to protect Riverside Park as a public open space for the enjoyment of future generations. The Council gave this assurance and agreed to facilitate a discussion with John Summers and all interested parties in due course.
In response to our petition to Lewes District Council to transfer the land it owns at Riverside Park to Newhaven Town Council, we’ve been told by LDC that plans to devolve the land are progressing, which is good news, given the current level of interest in the site. After the water park fiasco, it’s better that as much of the Riverside Park as possible is held in local hands. Friends of Riverside Park are also submitting an application to ESCC to register a number of Rights of Way to protect the footpaths that are used regularly.
In the meantime, people continue to enjoy the open space at Riverside Park. Species of wildlife new to the park are often being spotted, the hut has been given a facelift and SCDA, we’re told, will start putting in their community garden at the end of the summer.
Friends of Riverside Park Facebook: www.facebook.com/RiversideParkCommunityVoiceNewhaven?fref=ts
Contact Jo Pettitt at email@example.com if you’d like to join Friends of Riverside Park