Residents dub Newhaven the ‘town that stood still’

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NEWHAVEN has ‘stood still or even gone backwards’ and needs more commercial ventures, more jobs, an upgrade to the port, a new library, free parking and West Beach reopened.

So said the town’s residents in The People’s Report, compiled after development plans for Eastside prompted Newhaven Town Council’s The Big Planning Event and 500 people completed a survey.

The report said although the town had potential and natural assets, it needed to ‘move forward fast’, with ‘provision and safeguarding of employment opportunities’ a priority.

In the town centre residents wanted big name brands, local shops, restaurants and cafes.

They called for a cinema at Eastside, more factories and manufacturing jobs and affordable starter homes.

However, this new development was not to be at the expense of adjoining countryside and while a cinema topped the list of wants, the second most popular was to leave it as countryside.

A new retail centre was popular, along with the need for good integrated transport, as locating facilities out of town was a ‘significant barrier’.

“Most people blamed the ring road for the demise of the town centre,” said the report.

A new social and community role was needed for the town centre now the main retail area was east of the river, with a new library, more banks and cafes, free parking and more frequent markets.

Despite the town’s assets and good features, a ‘terrible first impression’ was given by the scrap metal pile and derelict buildings at the port and there was a lack of activities for tourists and advertising of attractions like the fort.

The sandy beach was seen as an ‘essential part of Newhaven life’ and should be reopened with an arcade, cafe, play area, free parking and toilets.

Respondents were split on the future of land north of Lewes Road Recreation Ground, with some wanting it left wild and others asking for plays areas, although dogs’ mess was an issue.

Town council leader Cllr Judith Ost said the report was ‘just the first step’.