Fisherman’s Green: Michael Gove says council does not have to build on Eastbourne seafront site

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Michael Gove has said that Eastbourne council does not have to build on Fisherman’s Green.

The government’s Levelling Up, Housing and Communities secretary Mr Gove was asked about the issue by Eastbourne MP Caroline Ansell at the House of Commons on Monday, February 20.

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Mr Gove explained: “I have been taking a close interest in the activities of Eastbourne Borough Council (EBC). The decision to develop Fisherman’s Green is the council’s alone, so the council could easily take it out.

Caroline Ansell with Michael GoveCaroline Ansell with Michael Gove
Caroline Ansell with Michael Gove

“The changes that we have made in the Levelling Up and Regeneration Bill would allow it to do that.”

EBC leader David Tutt said he was ‘absolutely delighted’ that the council could remove Fisherman's Green as a ‘key development site’ in its Local Plan – Growth Strategy.

He added: “We intend to use this power to remove other sensitive sites from the strategy such as the farmland on Pevensey Levels, the university sites in Meads, the Sovereign Harbour (in order to maintain the cross-party promise that the council gave to residents) and the low level farmland on the fringes of Eastbourne Park."

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The strategic planning committee met on February 20, following Mr Gove's announcement, and will be recommending to the Cabinet that these sites are withdrawn alongside Fisherman's Green, according to EBC.

Fisherman's Green car park in Eastbourne (Picture from Jon Rigby)Fisherman's Green car park in Eastbourne (Picture from Jon Rigby)
Fisherman's Green car park in Eastbourne (Picture from Jon Rigby)

The Growth Strategy is part of preparations for the new Local Plan which is a blueprint for the town's future growth, guiding decisions on the locations, amount and type of development that is needed.

EBC deputy leader Stephen Holt said: "We have opposed any development on Fisherman's Green and other sensitive sites, so it is great news for the town that our determination to protect these important spaces is being realised and we can take them out without any government sanctions.”

Mrs Ansell said she supports local people who are against building on Fisherman’s Green and also thinks the site should be taken out of the strategy.

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She added: “I pay tribute to local residents who highlighted the threat to Fisherman’s Green.”

Eastbourne Borough Council's Stephen HoltEastbourne Borough Council's Stephen Holt
Eastbourne Borough Council's Stephen Holt

Full Council agreed to adopt a motion to remove Fisherman’s Green from the draft Local Plan on Wednesday, February 22.

Fiona Adkins-Mullen, who spoke at the meeting on behalf of Residents Against Fisherman Green Development, said: “We were delighted to mobilise our wonderful and passionate community to raise their voices.

"We’re thankful to every single person who offered us their support. It’s a great outcome for our heritage. What a tremendous town we live in.”

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Eastbourne Borough Council leader David TuttEastbourne Borough Council leader David Tutt
Eastbourne Borough Council leader David Tutt