District council will keep Newhaven Fort but need new ideas

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A VISITOR attraction which could have been sold off will remain in the hands of Lewes District Council (LDC)

Several options were put forward for the future of Newhaven Fort after it was revealed that the venue currently runs at a loss of around £200,000 a year.

One of the options was to sell the freehold but after a cabinet meeting members agreed to lease the whole site as a long term visitor attraction. The plan is to keep the historic monument and give interested parties the chance to put forward ideas to boost the venue.

The fort needs millions of pounds to fulfil its potential as a significant visitor attractions and a feasibility study has showed there are people interested in the venue.

Councillor Rob Blackman, lead member for Business, Economic Development and Tourism at Lewes District Council, said, “I love the Fort. My children used to go there regularly when they were younger.

“Newhaven Fort is important to most people in our district and we know it has the potential to be a catalyst in the town’s regeneration.

“But the Fort currently runs at an annual loss of approximately £200K which cannot be justified.

“It does require large investment, possibly as much as £6 million, to fulfil its potential as a significant visitor attraction.

“We know from the feasibility study that there are interested parties out there. It is a great site and location and could host a fantastic variety and range of events as well as providing enhanced educational facilities, be a location for a range of commercial activities and much more.

“At cabinet we agreed to retain ownership of the fort and go out to the market to tender for a long term lease arrangement. We are looking to lease the whole site as a long-term visitor attraction.

“All costs associated with the improvement works and site management would be the responsibility of the leaseholder and would generate a market rate”.