Projects around Lewes are to receive £1.2million after council leaders signed off on plans to release funding raised through the Community Infrastructure Levy (CIL).
Groups to benefit from this round of funding include the Egrets Way cycle route, the Newhaven Fort Recreation Ground and the Salts Recreation Ground in Seaford, among others.
In a statement released after the meeting, Cllr Emily O’Brien, cabinet member for planning, said: “CIL funding is a proving a real game-changer in our local communities, with health, wellbeing and social benefits being generated.
“The improved sports facilities in this round of funding is great news and I’m particularly pleased to see the major funding being committed to the cycle route from Newhaven to Piddinghoe.
“Included among the other community projects we’ve supported, £3,000 is going towards the refurbishment of the school library in Newick. The funding will help create a resource hub that local residents can also use.”
In this round of district funding allocations, £20,000 will go towards the resurfacing of tennis courts at the Salts Recreation Ground in Seaford, alongside new floodlighting and fencing.
Meanwhile £56,000 will go towards the resurfacing of the tennis courts and ball court at Newhaven Fort Recreation Ground, as well as a ramped access to the venue.
A further £13,280 will be used to connect electricity to the Denton Island bandstand in Newhaven and nearly £3,000 will part-fund three water refill stations on Seaford seafront intended to reduce the use of single use plastics.
The Seahaven Academy, meanwhile, will receive £400,000 from the county allocation to support an expansion and £300,000 has been agreed for improvements to the Newhaven ring road.
The county council plans to update junctions and pedestrian crossing co-ordination to accommodate planned housing and current development pressures.
The Egrets Way Project – a cycle route along the River Ouse – will also receive funding, with around £250,000 being released from the combined county and community pots to part fund its construction.
Some concerns, however, were raised about this funding by Seaford East councillor Julian Peterson (Con) due to concerns about the road safety of the surrounding area.
Cllr Peterson, who is also the clerk of Piddinghoe Parish Council, said: “I think the idea of a cycle path to Newhaven is great but the Egrets Way is going to come up, one way or another, at the north end of Piddinghoe on to the C7.
“That bit of the C7, for drivers and cyclists, isn’t particularly nice. East Sussex [Highways] would say no one has been killed there so it is not dangerous, but lots of people do perceive this as a dangerous bit of road.
“This is just not safe and I am surprised, in a way, that this amount of money is being spent on this rather than on trying to improve the safety of the difficult bit.”
Other councillors, however, felt differently about releasing funding for the project.
Cllr O’Brien said: “Our role as a district council is in assessing a bidding process. It is the Egrets Way management committee who have decided the priorities on this.
“One of the things I would say about the Egrets Way is it has taken a long time and what is really great about this money is that it will unlock the whole route.
“Assuming the South Downs National Park agree to their bit of CIL funding it will mean the whole route is completed, which can only give extra pressure to the acknowledged sticky within that.
“But actually it is not our role to decide what should be bid for. We hold the money and they have put in a really good bid, a very compelling bid, that we then had to approve or not.”
A similar point was made Kingston councillor Will Meyer (Lib Dem). He said: “I know there are some real issues and concerns, but I just don’t think that is for this meeting.
“What this meeting is really about is releasing funding following due process against a very strong bid to support the Egrets Way through Piddinghoe to Newhaven.
“I’m not trying in any way to limit the concerns you have about that section [of the C7] but the Egrets Way has been put together piece by piece, as you well know, and I am actually amazed as much of it has been done as has already been done.
“I don’t think we should let the good be the enemy of the possible, really. I think to support this is marvellous and I think it will ultimately unlock the rest of it, albeit a lot of work needs to be done on that section of the C7.”