LETTER: The real reason was public and councillor pressure

I really hope that it wasn’t red tape that destroyed the New Homes project (Sussex Express, Fri 12 Feb).

If it was, the blame can be laid fairly and squarely on officials at Lewes District Council whose job it was at the outset to check the legal (and practical) situation surrounding each proposed site.

Red tape, had it been unearthed at that stage, would have prevented the scheme’s progress and the consequent waste of money. Residents’ money, provided from tax whose purpose is to maintain and improve services and the environment for residents.

The restrictions on building at the Buckle were known at the start, in 2012, as it was LDC’s own Local Development Plan that imposed restrictions on the height of any development west of the Salts. Let me say that again: LDC’s own Plan. That the restriction was ignored is an indictment of LDC officers and the previous chief executive must take responsibility for it, particularly as she was one of the two main protagonists of the scheme (the other being the then leader, James Page).

The real reason for the termination of the New Homes scheme was public and councillor pressure. There has been intensive action by Seaford Residents’ Voice, Independents for Seaford, Lewes District In-touch, and Seaford Community Partnership; along with the more far-seeing councillors at county, district and town, and individual residents.

All have repeatedly shouted out that the Buckle is a used, needed town facility. We have all maintained that there was neither proper research nor democratic consultation from the outset. Sites around the district have had similar levels of objection and for similar reasons.

Small wonder, then, that Andy Smith, the new LDC Leader, has thought about and discussed the matter and come to the right, common-sense, decent, conclusion.

As to Arghiros’s (Karis) reported comments that are so at odds with Southern Housing Group’s ready acceptance of the decision, this has echoes of the past. In 2000 he and Jenny Rowlands, (LDC’s Chief Officer and previously Director of Environment at Brighton) were prevented from proceeding with the unpopular King Alfred development there. At that time he attempted to sue the Brighton Council but failed.

He has ignored public opinion around Lewes District and has promoted this scheme despite its shaky foundations, choosing instead to blame Andy Smith in person. Does that strike anyone else as immature behaviour? Would we want such a person to be involved with any future development schemes in Lewes or in Sussex?

I suggest not.

Richard Wright

Chairman, Seaford Residents’ Voice