James MacCleary, Leader of Lewes District Council has written today to the Secretary of State for Housing, Communities and Local Government, Robert Jenrick MP, asking him to rule out any plans for a lorry park in the Newhaven and the wider Lewes district area.
The letter from Councillor James MacCleary follows the government’s recent introduction of sweeping powers, known as a Special Development Order, that allows for the construction of lorry parks in 29 different council areas across England without any approval from local planning authorities.
East Sussex is one of the 29 areas that has been included in the order.
Newhaven resident Councillor James MacCleary said:
“In any circumstance it is a very worrying sign when a government grants itself such wide-ranging powers without any consultation with either the local Council or residents. The assumption we have to make is they know how deeply contentious and unpopular these actions will be.
“Tories like Lewes MP Maria Caulfield try to dismiss any questions about Brexit as ‘scaremongering’ but for those of us who actually live in Lewes District, it is important to understand what is planned for our community. East Sussex has only one major working port, Newhaven, so to rule out lorry parks at ports in East Sussex is to rule out this development at Newhaven or indeed communities whose transport links serve the port such as Lewes or Seaford.
“Maria Caulfield has claimed publicly that there will be no lorry parks locally, but if that is the case then why is East Sussex listed in the legislation? The country was told Brexit was about reducing red tape and delays. This discussion about lorry parks shows that a massive increase in checks on lorries and paperwork is planned and the Government is planning locations for these extensive new checks to be carried out.
“The uncertainty is causing widespread concern within our community so I hope the Secretary of State will quickly rule out any possibility of a lorry park being built in the district and at Newhaven port.”
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The text of James MacCleary's letter to Robert Jenrick, Minister for Housing, Communities & Local Government is as follows:
Dear Secretary of State
Construction of Lorry Parks in East Sussex
I am writing to you to express significant concern that the Government will be able to start construction of lorry parks in 29 different council areas without approval of the Local Planning Authorities.
Despite East Sussex being named within the instrument put before Parliament last week, I am extremely disappointed that Lewes District Council and East Sussex County Council were not advised at any point of the Government’s intention to grant itself such wide-ranging powers.
The lack of any communication has caused concern within our community I have received numerous enquiries from worried residents asking where parking facilities will be located. This is causing particular concern in the Newhaven area where we have an important international passenger and freight port.
I understand that Maria Caulfield, MP for Lewes, has stated via social media that there are no plans to build in the Newhaven/Lewes area. However, if this is the case it seems unnecessary to include East Sussex in the new powers as Newhaven is the only port of its kind in the county.
I would be grateful if you would formally confirm that you do not have plans for such a facility within the Lewes/Newhaven area and commit to meaningful engagement with Councils where such proposals are being considered.