A GIANT dome similar to the Eden Project in Cornwall could grace the Newhaven skyline within the next five years if ambitious plans by Roundtable Entertainments are successful.
The clear dome would top the largest water park in the world which could be built in the town as part of a £350m leisure development.
Around 500 local jobs, including specialist engineering roles, would be created, to help maintain what the developer described as a “world class facility.”
It also emerged that the water park would be under cover, making it a year round attraction and keeping noise levels down.
European director of KEH Developments, Dominic Howson, said: “This [the water park] will be a landmark in the UK.”
He explained he could not say where the proposed water park and casino would be built at this stage, because there were about eight different options they were looking into as part of their feasibility study.
Mr Howson explained Round Table Entertainments, the consortium behind the scheme, was conducting a feasibility study which would look into many aspects of the proposal, including the traffic implications for Newhaven, where congestion around the level crossing and swing bridge can be very bad.
He said: “We know that that’s a very big worry about congestion because that central through fair is very congested at morning peak times.
“The water park is not going to be opening at 9am so it wouldn’t create too much additional traffic at this time, but that’s one of the many aspects we have to do the feasibility study on and on how we work with traffic flows.”
Once this feasibility study is complete in October, the company pledges to begin a full public consultation.
Roundtable Entertainments, incorporated in Guernsey, is a consortium of companies which has come together for this specific project.
Mr Howson said the group included specialist operators of water and theme parks, financial companies and Kuwait European Holdings, a Kuwaiti company with a background in international resort developments.
Mr Howson also reassured residents that the hotel would not be built on the Lewes Road Recreation Ground.
He said: “We are not planning to use the recreation ground in any of our current designs.
“The recreation ground will not be used for at least five or six years, potentially even staying open for a decade.”
However he could not rule out that the land would not be used for some other purpose in the future.
He said designs for the current hotel proposed on land at Robinson Road, were designed so that there were no views of the incinerator on the other side of the river. (Continued on page 2).
Mr Howson said Newhaven had good transport links, with road and rail connections, highlighting its proximity to London and towns in the South East. He said: “There is a lot of potential in Newhaven. A lot of developers are getting interested in Newhaven.”
He continued: “We have been looking for a site since September of last year. This is our flagship project we are looking at to announce our presence in the UK.”
Mr Howson said the company needed to see how this first stage went, but said if it went well, there might be more developments in Newhaven in the future. The scheme, which includes a water park, hotel and casino, could be built within five years. The water park will be six hectares – the equivalent of ten football pitches.
Mr Howson said there was the potential for free useage of the water park by local schools and this question will form part of the public consultation scheduled for early 2013.
If the feasibility study gives a negative result or residents do not support the proposals, then all the land will be returned to the Lewes District Council.
To protect the public interest, the district council, which sold the land at Robinson Road for use as a hotel development, stressed it would retain the right to take the land back if the development was not substantially completed.