Zoe Nicholson, Leader of Lewes District Council

Meet Zoe Nicholson, Leader of Lewes District Council

We caught up with Zoe Nicholson, Leader of Lewes District Council and Leader of the Green Group, about her ambitions for Newhaven and the different projects across the town which the council is funding to support businesses and residents.

Tell us more about the successes Lewes District Council has achieved for Newhaven?

We secured £36.9m of government funding to help transform the town.

As a consequence, we have landmark projects that are underway and in the pipeline. They will all make a positive difference for generations of residents, now and long into the future.

What’s been your highlight in terms of improving Newhaven so far?

We have developed new, high quality council homes in the town, with more to come. Mindful of the housing crisis and the many factors that make it so difficult for councils to build new homes nowadays, it is quite an achievement and one that I’m very proud of.

Also bringing the Marine Workshops back into use, with our partnership with East Sussex College Group, welcoming new students into the building, businesses like King and McGaw and more to come in the not too distant future, as well as relocating our offices from Lewes to Newhaven, when many of our staff live on the coast.

Tell us more about the national pilot pathfinder scheme and the benefits for Newhaven?

Lewes District Council is one of only ten local authorities nationally that were invited to pilot a simplified approach to delivering different funding programmes in parallel.

We are now able to consolidate the various pots of money and have much greater flexibility in the way that we use it to transform Newhaven.

What’s your vision for the future of Newhaven?

Above all I want to see the town thrive.

I want to see our ambitions for improved health and wellbeing in the town fulfilled, greater opportunities for businesses to grow and invest and as a result, more high-quality job opportunities for local people.

Tell us more about how this funding will boost businesses in the town?

We have 13 projects that local people can be really excited about, some are complete, such as the new pitch at Newhaven Football Club, while most are in the delivery stage.

For example, we are implementing major improvements to the Fort Road Recreation Ground, extensive works at Newhaven Fort are due to start very soon, Newhaven Square is being redeveloped, including the relocation of two GP surgeries alongside Wave Active in state-of-the-art modern facilities, a new fish processing plant and landing stage is planned and the development of a new restaurant and community attractions will transform the West Promenade.

We also see there is space for a creative hub and start-up businesses proposed as part of the Newhaven Square development which is great news for the business community. Can you tell us more about this?

Newhaven Square will provide creative workspaces, including co-working spaces, small studios and meeting spaces.

Essentially, we are putting in place a platform from which the start-ups of today can find their feet and develop into employers of tomorrow.

It’s all about creating opportunities and nurturing the next generation of businesses.

What makes Newhaven a great place to base a business in your view?

The town has everything – marine, coastline, countryside, industry and links into Europe.  Everything combined, it gives Newhaven a distinct character and offers great potential for SMEs to be successful.

What’s your favourite part of Newhaven?

My favourite bit of Newhaven is the hidden gem of Castle Hill Nature Reserve, amazing butterflies and so well looked after by volunteers. I also love the Piddinghoe to Newhaven part of Egrets Way.

Find out more about development projects taking place in Newhaven here.

Read more of our Q&As here

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