Why not both developments?

THERE seems to be a lot of nonsense spoken about the three development schemes proposed for the eastern side of Newhaven; then again, obfuscation is the name of the game when it comes to developments that are considered to be contextually large in their target environment.

The three proposals are largely different in that the former Parker Pen site proposal comprises a retail park, nursery and community centre, the Railway Quay proposal offers a Tesco supermarket, other shops, a restaurant and restored heritage buildings. Could anyone please tell me why those two schemes are mutually exclusive? If there is some hidden detail that prevents both being granted planning permission, then I for one would like to hear it.

The third proposal is for 200 homes, an Asda supermarket, 14 commercial units and a pub-restaurant on land to the east of the Brightwell Industrial Estate.

Newhaven is strategically placed and is not constricted by the planning hurdles of the South Downs National Park (SDNP), which has created a zone of around 14 square miles between Brighton and Eastbourne that will prove difficult for any kind of development.

The only exception to that planning moratorium is Newhaven, which is outside the SDNP zone and has a surfeit of mainly greyfield sites, but some brownfield land too. I feel sure we are being surveyed by more than Asda and Tesco.

The major stumbling block would appear to be the number of supermarkets that the town would be left with, which would suggest overcapacity but, at the same time, these proposals would suggest that the town centre would likely be rendered redundant from its current purpose and, that being the case, may see the successful businesses relocate to a new ‘town centre’ embedded in one of the existing proposals.

It must be clear to everyone that knows Newhaven that the town centre is in terminal decline. We have to think in broader terms to ensure that the proposals that we are faced with are successful. That may mean that some sacrifices have to be made and moving the town centre is probably one of them.

Experts, such as Michael Cogwell from ‘Locate’, the county’s agency promoting economic development, have said that only one of the proposals could be successful – without explaining why that might be the case.

For example, the Railway Quay development could be granted, adding an additional and popular supermarket to the current facilities. This would see the Railway Quay refurbished and a new passenger terminal completed, as well as other shops and restaurants. The site currently earmarked for Asda could then be used to provide housing, adding to the indigenous economy and thus supporting the two other developments.

It doesn’t take much foresight to surmise that people will be unwilling to drive to Brighton over the next decade, be that because of the cost of fuel or because of the difficulties imposed by parking restrictions and suchlike in the city. Thus there is nothing to prevent a redefined Newhaven from being a pivotal shopping and leisure facility with a catchment area stretching from Saltdean to West Dean. If Newhaven is developed perspicaciously we may find that it has an important regional role in the future.

Henry Page, Newhaven