The argument for the 49 sites project and Lewes District Council’s mistake in killing the scheme

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Your story of January 11 about my dispute with Lewes District Council has attracted significant attention.

There have been news stories, blog posts and most recently, in last week’s edition of the Sussex Express, a letter from a Mark Jones of Hassocks about the claim and the council’s decision to kill the project known as the ’49 Sites’.

Given the interest, I thought your readers might like to know the facts of the case rather than the spin that, unfortunately, now seems to be masquerading as truth.

In his letter, Mr Jones said that in agreeing the 49 sites scheme, the old council “bypassed” public sector procurement rules and the required competitive tendering process. 

Nonsense.  

The project was advertised throughout the UK and Europe as part of a two-stage, 18-month EU tender (OJEU). The process was organised and audited by external consultants and lawyers at DTZ and Eversheds. 

They recommended that LDC select my company, Karis Developments, along with my partners Southern Housing Group and Conran Partners. 

The decision was agreed and ratified at full council on 30 July 2015.

Mr Jones calls the 49 sites project a “car crash”. 

This is what the current leadership of LDC wants you to believe and, due to their spin, the impression that many readers of the Express may have been left with. 

The truth is far more interesting.

The facts are that the project was due to deliver huge benefits to the district, including 300 desperately needed social and affordable homes, an equity and cash benefit to LDC of around £100m and an ad infinitum revenue stream of £3.6m per year. 

Mr Jones continues his letter by throwing the names of two former council leaders and a former council chief executive into the ring, asking why they aren’t being sued. That’s simple to answer. They had nothing to do with the central point on which my case turns, the decision to kill the scheme. 

That mistake was made by the current administration of LDC led by Council Leader Andy Smith and backed up his chief executive Rob Cottrill.

These individuals will be brought to court for questioning. 

This is where things should get very interesting.

I think the voters of Lewes and the district will be interested to learn not just what their council does in their name but also how it goes about doing it.

Josh Arghiros

Karis Developments Ltd