A decision on controversial plans to build a major apartment complex has been delayed. 

On Wednesday (April 17), Lewes District Council’s planning committee had been due to consider proposals to build 126 flats and duplexes — many within an 18-storey tower — on land in Beach Road, near to the entrance of Newhaven Port.

On the day of the meeting, however, officers changed their recommendation from approval to ‘deferral without discussion’. The change came in response to a request from developer KSD Support Services, which had raised fears that the absence of final comments from East Sussex Highways could ‘prejudice the consideration of the item’. 

In light of this advice, the committee opted to defer their decision, meaning the scheme will likely be considered at a later date. 

The proposed development had proven to be controversial with local residents, with the council having received 195 letters of objection prior to the publication of the officers’ report to the committee. 

Objections included a petition from Newhaven’s Liberal Democrat group, which has been signed by 187 individuals. It reads: “While we welcome the development of brownfield sites, they must be in keeping with the rest of Newhaven and meet the town’s needs. 

“The 18-storey high tower will be higher than Nelson’s column, and will completely change not just the local street scene but the whole of Newhaven.”

The petition adds: “The previous plans would have delivered a fantastic opportunity, but these plans offer nothing. There is no affordable housing offered in this development, there is not sufficient parking and there will be a major issue with over-development and shadowing. 

“It would be fantastic if KSD would work with East Side residents and find a development that works for the community. We accept this is a brownfield site, and we accept it should be used for housing but we don’t accept a tower that offers no affordable housing and will change the look of Newhaven’s skyline.”

Objections have also been raised by Newhaven Port and Properties Ltd. The company, which is the harbour authority responsible for maintaining the port, points out how it owns a small part of the application site and wants to preserve its rights over the land. While this land dispute would not prevent the grant of planning permission, it could mean the scheme as applied for is not feasible in its current state.

The site had previously secured planning permission for a mixed use development (including an 80-bedroom hotel), but this earlier scheme was not built out.

The current application also includes commercial space.

For further information see application reference LW/23/0304 on the Lewes District Council website.