Plans to build an Asda and 190 homes at Newhaven Eastside were narrowly voted through by Lewes District Council’s planning committee this week.
Councillors voted by five to four to give the scheme the go ahead on Wednesday December 12 at County Hall in Lewes, sticking with the planning officers’ recommendations.
It was pointed out by some on the committee that Avalon’s scheme for Eastside was deliverable, as it had the backing of Asda and Barratt Homes.
A competing application to build a supermarket, restore listed buildings and create a riverside boardwalk at Railway Quay in Newhaven, from the developer Arrowcroft, which was considered by the committee at the same time, was turned down because concerns from East Sussex County Council Highways Authority had not been resolved.
Arrowcroft asked the district council to defer its decision for two months to give it time to resolve planning issues.
The council’s retail consultant had said the town centre could only support one more supermarket.
If supermarkets were built at Eastside and Railway Quay, the retail consultant said this could force the Co-op to close, which would reduce visitors to the town centre. This meant the council had to choose the Eastside or Railway Quay scheme.
However there was some disagreement amongst the committee as to what the best option was for Newhaven.
Cllr Steve Saunders (L.Dem, Newhaven Valley) said he feared the Eastside development would form a separate town and would not be well integrated with the rest of Newhaven, adding it would not help to regenerate the town.
Cllr Saunders said the Railway Quay scheme would also restore a derelict area of land.
The Eastside scheme includes phase one of the port access road, but cllr Saunders said Newhaven Port did not view it as an immediate priority. But the county council said it was a way for the port to expand, providing access by vehicles and larger vehicles.
Cllr Saunders argued for more time for Arrowcroft to resolve issues with highways.
He said: “The housing would form a new town and would not encourage integration, particularly as it has its own shop. It is my view this development will leave us with a similar development as we were forced to endure with the ring road.”
But other councillors said homes would bring people, who would spend money in the town.
Cllr Rod Main (L.Dem, Newhaven, Denton and Meeching) said the Arrowcroft scheme obscured the listed buildings and added it was not certain it would encourage linked trips between the town centre and the supermarket.
He said: “I think they have had adequate time to come up with a solution in the last 12 months.”
Cllr Tom Jones (Con, Ditchling) said the university technical college and water park would help regenerate the town, adding: “I’m also very conscious of the need for us to get a move on in doing something in Newhaven . I don’t see that happening with the highways situation as that stands at the moment.”
The Eastside scheme will create about 450 jobs and includes office or light industrial space, a petrol station and parking. Among the reasons why the com mittee refused the plans for Railway Quay were the resulting increased traffic in this location and the close proximity of the proposed relocated transport interchange with the junction of Drove Road, which would lead to driver confusion and the potential for crashes.