The developer behind a scheme to regenerate Railway Quay in Newhaven cast doubt on the future of the derelict part of the town.
Arrowcroft director Daniel Carter said there was no other form of development which could carry the costs involved in regenerating Railway Quay.
Avalon has been granted planning permission for 190 homes and an Asda for Eastside.
Mr Carter said: “The assumption of some of the members of Lewes District Council that these costs can be financed somehow else is naïve in the extreme.
“There is no alternative form of development to that proposed by Arrowcroft that can carry the costs inherent in a Railway Quay regeneration – if there was I would have promoted it.”
He continued: “Most important of all the committee did not consider what would happen to Railway Quay, the Port or other regeneration schemes if the Arrowcroft development did not go ahead.
“Even if a viable alternative development could be formulated, it is now unlikely it would be acceptable, given that the highway network will be saturated by development at Eastside.”
Newhaven MP Norman Baker added: “Newhaven is at a crossroads and the district council has tragically taken the wrong turning.
“Over the years Newhaven has had some terrible planning decisions inflicted on it, from the ring road that strangled the town centre, to the incinerator that treats it like a rubbish dump, and now this decision, that throws away a great opportunity to renovate a derelict site close to the town centre in way that helps the port and instead opts for a development that undermines what’s left of the town centre, compromises land marked for industrial purposes and paves the way for a multi-million pound port access road that the port itself doesn’t want. Newhaven deserves better than this.”
District council lead member for planning Tom Jones said: “It could be that a mixed use regeneration scheme of a smaller scale and innovative ideas for use of the former warehouse and existing buildings may provide a scheme that local residents find attractive and the community can support.”
He pointed out the Eastside scheme would provide houses, including affordable housing for local people.
He continued: “Whilst recognising the advantages of the Railway Quay scheme for refurbishment of the East Quay area, the acceptability of the scheme was always dependant on finding an acceptable highways solution, which regrettably had not been achieved.”
Cllr Jones added: “Although the planning committee’s decision was consistent with the decision made earlier in the year, we will continue to make every effort to find solutions for the regeneration of the Railway Quay land as part of our commitment to wider regeneration initiatives in Newhaven, that the council is vigorously pursuing on many fronts.
“We welcome alternative redevelopment and regeneration proposals for this land that can overcome the fundamental highways objections raised by East Sussex County Council as Highway Authority.”
Responding to the story in the Sussex Express, cllr Rod Main (Newhaven, Denton and Meeching) said:”It was a solution that ticked all the boxes for what needed to be done on the quayside but that isn’t the only criterion for passing an application.
“Unfortunately, after more than 12 months in the planning process, a workable solution to the traffic problem could not be found.
“Even if it had been approved by Lewes District Council, because it would have been a departure, the government department for communities would also have to have allowed it and with such a big objection, they may not have.”
Cllr Main added Tesco had announced it was not going to open any more major supermarkets in the current financial climate.
He continued: “With no operator in their (Arrowcroft’s) corner, their application was a dead end that would have left Newhaven with nothing.
“Approving the application would have given the land an unrealistic value, almost certanly preventing any other development until the permission lapsed.
“No Marine workshop restoration, no port entrance redevelopment, no ASDA... no light at the end of the regeneration tunnel ...zip...nada.. nothing.”
Cllr Main said a development which faced the river would improve the image of the river front, pointing out the side wall of a supermarket would do nothing for the image of the quayside.
He said it might need developers with deep pockets and a long term vision to get the right things to happen.
Cllr Main added: “The planning committee will still need to look at all aspects and make its judgements based on the evidence before it for each new application it is presented with.
“It’s not trying to win a popularity contest. Its trying to decide between the things that will work and the things that won’t.”