The land on Tide Mills, the internationally recognised vegetated shingle beach and the historic WW1 Seaplane Base has been pushed one step closer to becoming an industrial estate by the decision taken at the recent full Lewes District Council meeting.
The main agenda item at the meeting was the Lewes District Council Local Plan Part 2, which sets out the planning policy for the area for the next 20 to 30 years.
The site that attracted the highest number of written objections at 241 and prompted most of the debate was the proposed industrial use of land on Tide Mills.
Many arguments were put forward regarding the soundness and sustainability of selecting the land as a possible industrial site given the inaccuracies and errors within the Part 2 documents.
The first inaccuracy was the title itself. Lewes District Council called the site ‘Land at East Quay, Newhaven’. This is grossly inaccurate. The land is not even part of the Newhaven Enterprise Zone. The land is part of the Tide Mills Site of Nature Conservation, now known as a Local Wildlife Site.
A further inaccuracy was pointed out in that the documents stated that Newhaven Town Council were one of the organisations that proposed the land for industrial use when in fact, Newhaven Town Council were one of the 241 objectors citing that Newhaven has enough available land for industrial and employment purposes for the next 20 to 30 years.
The next issue was how Lewes District Council could justify that Policy E1 was sound and sustainable when the site had the poorest score overall of the three proposed when measured against the 18 objectives listed in the Lewes District Council Local Plan Part 2 Sustainability Assessment of September 2018.
The proposed site with the best score when measured against the 18 objectives was at Falmer, adjacent to the Stadium and the main A27 trunk road. Lewes District Council discounted this and opted for the land on Tide Mills.
It was then put to the Lewes District Council meeting that it is recognised that, when it is built, the Newhaven Port Access Road would occupy the western section of E1. But given that Newhaven Port and Properties are understood to have no interest in development any further east than the Newhaven Port Access Road and given that Policy E1 is not part of the Newhaven Enterprise Zone why couldn’t the eastern section of Policy E1, the WW1 Seaplane Base and vegetated shingle beach, be removed from Policy E1?
This was rejected by the Lewes District Council Cabinet Member for Planning.
Lewes District Council was then asked to justify proposing to destroy our coast line, our local environment and the local tourism industry. Natural England has just completed a consultation for the Secretary of State into a coastal path from Shoreham to Eastbourne, which is part of the UNESCO World Biosphere. Tide Mills would form an integral part of this coastal path.
No satisfactory answer was forthcoming from the Lewes District Council Cabinet Member for Planning, only a suggestion of a written reply was offered.
At the close of the debate the vote was a very close run thing with 18 councillors voting in favour of submitting the Lewes District Council Local Plan Part 2 for examination by the Planning Inspector and 17 voting against with 1 abstention.
A very sad outcome.
Even more sad is that had it been 18 for and 18 against, then the chairman’s casting vote could have thrown the Lewes District Council Local Plan Part 2 out and saved Tide Mills.
A very big thank you to the 17 Lewes District Council councillors who supported us.
The future of Tide Mills is now all down to the Planning Inspectors enquiry.