A MOVE to sell playing fields in Newhaven to accommodate a hotel overlooking the incinerator was met with shock this week.
Lewes District Council is consulting with residents on the proposal which could see 8.93 hectares at Lewes Road Recreation Ground given up.
But the council said this opportunity could provide jobs and business, pledging to find alternative playing fields.
To protect the public interest, the council stressed it would retain the right to take the land back if the development was not substantially completed.
The deadline for residents to respond is June 20, however the council promised further opportunities for people to have their say.
District council leader James Page (Con, East Saltdean and Telscombe Cliffs) said: “We recognise that there is a delicate balance between creating jobs and opportunities and current recreational use of the land. This is why it is so important for people to give us their views as part of the current consultation process. Your views will help the council in arriving at a decision as to whether to sell.”
The council said the proposal was in line with its property strategy which identified Newhaven for regeneration and growth by maximising council assets.
The proposed hotel will need planning permission and a separate consultation procedure for this will take place.
It said the land would continue to be used for recreation until planning permission was granted and development of the hotel began.
Newhaven MP Norman Baker said: “It is unhelpful that this issue has emerged in the way it has through a public notice in a local paper. There now needs to be full and proper consideration of the issue with proper consultation with Newhaven people before any decisions are reached.”
Cllr Steve Saunders (L.Dem, Newhaven Valley) added: “The area of land in question, is of huge recreational importance to the people of Newhaven and particularly those in the Valley Ward, where it is the largest and most important play space for thousands of residents.
“Together with the adjacent area of common land, it has been earmarked for major recreational redevelopment for many years and as such, has been subject to several surveys and consultations.
“Many locals saw the resiting of the Household Waste Site last year, as a precursor to the much awaited and talked about refurbishment of the area. It’s another kick in the teeth for the people of Newhaven if it goes ahead.”
Cllr Carla Butler (L.Dem, Newhaven, Denton and Meeching) said: “I am completely surprised at the decision and obviously will be asking questions and would hope that the district council would consult with residents as soon as possible.”
Send views to Nilam Popat, Corporate Head, Communities and Enterprise, Southover House, Southover Road, Lewes, BN7 1AB or email firstname.lastname@example.org by 12 noon on Wednesday June 20.