NPP has applied for permission to create a much needed new berth and a small land development area behind it. The new berth will predominantly be on land that is partly within the existing port security fencing as it is now, and is derelict; the land development area (LDA) amounting to around 3 hectares backs onto this, and will be replaced by a larger 3.5 hectare conservation area bordering the Tide Mills historic village area. In the first phase only the LDA and the Conservation Area will be developed, as shown in the plan below.
NPP is desperately short of quayside: a significant length of the East Quay cannot be used as it has to be clear to allow the ferry to access the ferry berth; the southern end of the East Quay will be dedicated to mooring of wind farm crew transfer vessels (fast, 20 metre catamarans). This leaves NPP with essentially only one short berth area to handle all of the other cargo and marine traffic.
The existing East Quay is also very old and was not built to take the heavier weights of cargo experienced today. It cannot be dredged any deeper due to the old infrastructure and so limits the size of vessels handled. The North Quay is not an option for Port expansion as the previous owners leased it on 999 year terms, effectively sterilising it from any NPP plans. In addition, it is extremely limited in depth and width.
The ability of the port to attract new business – and the much needed jobs that this brings – depends on being able to create new quayside. The area picked is the most obvious choice; essentially refurbishing an existing derelict area of the port. It also means the least interference with current uses of the Tide Mills area for dog walking and recreation as this will still be able to continue, and access by footpath to the East Pier for walking and fishing will be maintained.
The conservation area is ideally placed as it will act as a buffer between port activity, the existing conservation areas and the South Downs National Park (SDNPA), and will link the old seaplane base with the historic Tide Mills village. All conservation bodies, the SDNPA, Lewes district and Newhaven Town Councils, and the Friend of Tide Mills were consulted both before the planning application was started, and during the development process. A full Environmental Analysis has been carried out including monitoring of all fish, bird, mammal, reptile, invertebrate and plant species, and the effect on their habitats has been carefully considered. In almost all cases the effects of the proposed development have minimal or limited impact and the proposed new conservation area is – as much as anything – NPP honouring a commitment given in its Port Masterplan. Insofar as there is any habitat mitigation or species relocation required, the conservation area is an additional option for achieving that.
The conservation area is also essentially a transfer of NPP land into a public-private partnership (the legal structure and operation will be agreed between NPP, the Newhaven Town Council, the Friends of Tide Mills, SDNPA and other interested bodies), and this area will be an important and attractive conservation and educational facility for years to come.
NPP is very conscious of the amenity value of the Tide Mills area, and the land between it and the port operational area, and works closely with the Friends of Tide Mills in managing this area. The proposed development is an excellent and sensitive compromise between the need to grow and improve the port as a major catalyst of economic development and job creation in Newhaven, and the need to preserve the seashore and open areas enjoyed by local residents.
It should be noted that the LDA, and indeed all of the land up to the proposed conservation area, has been a llocated, for many years, for the ‘upgrading and expansion of the port’ under Planning Policy Statement NH20 subject to 5 provisos, all of which have been met in this case. The most significant proviso was that a full environmental impact assessment should be carried out and attached to the planning application. This has been done – it has taken the best part of two years, covers 28 separate chapters and topics, around 1,000 pages, and is public record. It is there so that anyone who wishes to give an informed opinion on the planning application can do so with the benefit of that extensive technical analysis.