THE headline about the proposed housing and supermarket development in Newhaven in last week’s Sussex Express was frustrating, “Eastside’s future remains unclear”. The same might be said of Lewes District councillors if they get this wrong. According to the article, the decision on the Eastside development will be “delayed to allow councillors to consider other similar proposals at the same time ... this would allow them to make the best choice for Newhaven, which would protect the town centre and kickstart regeneration.”
Newhaven residents have watched in desperation as two banks, Halifax and Barclays, have shut in the past five years. Now Natwest has announced that it will close in March, leaving HSBC as the only remaining bank in the town. We have no greengrocer, no butcher, no ironmonger or hardware store, no footwear outlet, no craft shop, no travel agent – the list is endless. M & Co recently closed their store and moved to Seaford. The health food shop shut its doors last autumn and is now being redeveloped as residential accommodation. The town centre is crumbling before our eyes and the only thing that will offer some hope is more people living hereabouts with money in their pockets. Successive councils stretching back decades have promised us ‘regeneration’, yet it seems that the district councillors now believe delay is the best way forward. Newhaven (including Denton and The Valley) has the smallest population of all the towns surrounding it – Peacehaven, Lewes and Seaford – but it has the space to build such developments within the constraints of the surrounding South Downs National Park. The town centre cannot be redeveloped for contemporary commercial use as it is too expensive and too small, so its retail outlets will either adapt to fill a niche market, failing which the town centre is likely doomed. At least a second large supermarket on the scale of Asda’s proposal would bring us greatly enhanced competition, lower prices and, crucially, hundreds of jobs and the money that brings to the town.
We need all of these developments – if that is at all possible – and an improved A26 road connection between the town and the Beddingham roundabout. We also need rail improvements as Newhaven must be unique in having three rail stations but not even one parking space between them; that and our MP is the minister of transport? That sums it up.
Henry Page, Newhaven
PS: The three rail stations are the Town and Harbour stations and Newhaven Marine, just in case someone believes there are only two.