Councillor Zoe Nicholson, leader of Lewes District Council, said: “This is a defining step in the regeneration of Newhaven and one that will create huge opportunities for the town.
“It is impossible not to see and feel the momentum that is building and with this crucial council acquisition, another piece of the jigsaw falls into place for the long-term benefit of local residents.”
The UTC building was a University Technical College for students aged 14–18, but was closed in 2019 and has been left unused ever since.
The council said it quickly identified the harbour side site as essential to their overarching plans for the regeneration of Newhaven and the establishment of a public contact centre in the town.
The plans also include a marine and sustainability technologies hub, commercial services, green initiatives and education and training facilities.
The council has committed £1m to the building and secured £1.3m of Getting Building Fund monies.
Councillor James MacCleary, deputy leader of Lewes District Council and Newhaven councillor, said: “I’m always getting asked about the former UTC building by fellow Newhaven residents and it’s no surprise as it’s such a striking building next to the river.
“It is such positive news that the district council have now bought the building from the government. It has not been an easy process, but the building is of enormous importance to the town’s future so it has been worth the effort.
“I’m really looking forward to seeing the building brought back to life with a mix of uses from education and training to private businesses and local government services.
“After years of being treated as a dumping ground, we are now seeing our town get the positive investment and energy it needs.”
Maria Caulfield, MP for Lewes, said: “The transfer of the UTC to Lewes district shows the government's commitment to the regeneration of Newhaven town.
"On top of the £50 million already committed to Newhaven, bringing the UTC back into use will further release the potential of the town.”