LETTER: Insistence is a direct conflict

There was a recent meeting at East Sussex County Council, County Hall in Lewes to discuss the planned road bridge and road onto Tide Mills.

This road bridge and road will be the continuation of the new Newhaven Port Access Road that starts behind Halfords in Newhaven and heads south towards the sea.

One of the planning objectives for this new road is to reduce the heavy goods traffic from the residential area of Railway Road/Beach Road. The proposal is for the road bridge to cross the Newhaven to Seaford railway line and Mill Creek in the north west corner of Tide Mills near the water treatment works which is at the end of Beach Road and then for a continuation of the road to enter Newhaven Harbour.

Present at the meeting were representatives from East Sussex County Council, Newhaven Port and Properties, the local MP, local councillors, members of the Friends of Tide Mills and other interested parties.

The proposals and plans were discussed at length with both East Sussex County Council and Newhaven Port and Properties insisting that the road bridge and road onto Tide Mills were essential to the Newhaven Port development plans.

This insistence by East Sussex County Council and Newhaven Port and Properties is in direct conflict with Newhaven Port and Properties own planning permission of two years ago for the port expansion plans, LW/15/0034, which state in more than one of the planning permission associated documents that the existing Beach Road entrance to Newhaven Harbour would be used.

During the meeting it was confirmed that Tide Mills is owned by Newhaven Port and Properties. Thus, although Tide Mills is actually private property, the public have enjoyed unrestricted access to this much valued open space and the beach for many generations. It was further confirmed that the proposals and plans for this road bridge and road are to be funded jointly with part of the money coming from East Sussex County Council and part from central government funds.

Thus it was confirmed that the road bridge and road are to be built on private property using public, tax payers’ money, for the direct benefit of a private commercial company.

Attempts were made by the Fields of Tide Mills and myself to persuade East Sussex County Council and Newhaven Port and Properties that the environmental and ecological cost to Tide Mills coupled with the loss of open space were too high a price to pay given that Tide Mills is designated as a Site of Nature Conservation Importance. The Newhaven Port and Properties planning permission for port expansion will also see the area of land in the south west corner of Tide Mills near the East Arm, land that is currently enclosed by green reptile fencing, the small sandy beach and the existing East Arm lost to the port expansion plans.

Thus, much of the western end of Tide Mills will be lost to development.

An alternative proposal was put forward by the Fields of Tide Mills and myself that by linking the already completed section of the new Newhaven Port Access Road to the southern end of Beach Road the heavy goods traffic could enter the port at the existing Beach Road entrance. Such a solution would not only negate the need for the road bridge onto Tide Mills, it would meet the planning objective of bypassing the residential area of Railway Road/Beach Road.

This possible solution was dismissed on the grounds that the port traffic would still need to negotiate the railway level crossing which is just inside the Beach Road harbour entrance. This reason was cited despite the fact that not half a mile away on the same railway line at Newhaven Station, not only port traffic but heavy goods traffic going to and from the incinerator currently negotiate the railway level crossing by Newhaven Station with no problem.

In conclusion, there appears to be a direct conflict between the East Sussex County Council planning permission LW/2061/CC for the new Port Access Road and Road Bridge onto Tide Mills and the Newhaven Port and Properties planning permission LW/15/0034 for the Port Expansion Plans with regard to the existing Beach Road entrance to Newhaven Harbour.

Newhaven Port and Properties planning permission LW/15/0034 clearly states on page 16, para 4.1 of the Design and Access Statement of 19/01/15 that there would be no new access into the port and that the existing access would be used. This is further supported on page 3, para 1.9 of the Officers report of 10/08/15 which states that access to the port would be via Drove Road, Railway Road, Clifton Road and Beach Road.

Clarification is sort from Lewes District Council Planning Department regarding this planning permission question.

Geoff King

Marine Drive, Seaford