NEW HOMES PROJECT: ‘Time, energy and money wasted’

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Staff at Karis Developments Ltd are considering an appropriate course of action after the collapse of Lewes District Council’s New Homes project means the company’s time, energy and money invested in the project was ‘wasted’.

Managing director of Karis Developments Ltd, Josh Arghiros, said: “The scheme was an excellent scheme that was going to provide cash into the coffers for Lewes District Council and much needed affordable homes.

“Our consortium had gained government grants for the affordable homes of £20,000 per house for each home we were to provide.

“Prior to Christmas, the full council voted to have a monitoring committee, so they could understand and investigate the scheme fully. This was partly due to some councillors being new following the May elections and them wishing to understand every aspect of the project. After this was passed at full council, Cllr Andy Smith chose to take it upon himself and find a reason to close down the project prior to the monitoring committee even having the opportunity to look at what we were delivering.

“The monitoring committee would have seen, once they looked into the project, how we were delivering desperately-needed affordable homes as well as regeneration for the area, particularly Newhaven, and revenue for LDC.

“The council was going to receive money for the sale of some of the sites and it was planned that the Consortium used that to develop further affordable homes over and above those planned in Newhaven. There was government grants for each of the affordable new homes for LDC.

“This is all now ended because of a political decision made by Cllr Smith. The cost to the taxpayer will run into hundreds of thousands of pounds maybe even millions due to his decision in closing down the project before the monitoring committee even had a chance to see for themselves the benefits it was delivering for the district - whereas, if it had continued, it would have created huge revenue, homes and regeneration for the local authority at no cost to the taxpayer at all.

“I suggest the cross party monitoring committee that was promised are still given the opportunity to look in depth at what the project was delivering and to assess the value it would have brought the district, and then thoroughly question Cllr Smith at why he personally decided to call a halt at huge cost to the taxpayer.

“Seventy-five per cent of the planning applications were close to being finalised. If they had got to planning there would have been zero cost to the taxpayer, yet Cllr Smith took it on himself to make a decision and close down on this project, which had been ratified through two previous cabinets and signed off by DTZ, Bevan Brittain & Capita.

“Andy Smith just looked for anything which would give him an excuse to close down the project and I would suggest he’s questioned very carefully over this.

“We are currently discussing our position and what action we feel appropriate to take after having our time, energy and money wasted over the last few years.”

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