Have your say on the future of the Brighton & Hove Downland Estate

13 November 2020 | Posted in Conservation , Jess Price , Community
Have your say on the future of the Brighton & Hove Downland Estate
Downland picnic by Richard Cobden

By Jess Price
Conservation Officer

Did you know that Brighton & Hove City Council (BHCC) owns most of the land that surrounds the city? A huge downland estate of over 5000 hectares, stretching from Mile Oak and arching all the way around to Saltdean. BHCC are currently consulting on a vision for this estate, asking us all what we want for this amazing public asset. They are going to take everyone’s ideas and try to create a new City Downland Estate Plan which sets out how the council will manage the land into the future.

This is a great opportunity for us to put forward ideas. The City Downland Estate is a fantastic public resource and as such it should be managed for public benefit. The Sussex Wildlife Trust wants this plan to holistically address the biggest issues of our time – the ecological, climate and health emergencies – so we think BHCC should prioritise enhancing ecosystem services including species diversity, water quality and quantity, pollination, food production, accessibility and carbon sequestration by:

  • Fully restoring the terribly damaged and degraded chalk grassland and other species-rich habitats that should be a jewel in the crown of the estate
  • Adapting farming practices to promote a more restorative, chemical-free approach that protects our chalk aquifer drinking water and combats climate change
  • Increasing quality public access and accessibility across the estate
  • Increasing opportunities for community engagement and use of this big resource

These are Sussex Wildlife Trust’s priorities, but this consultation is for anyone and everyone. You don’t have to know the estate well to contribute. Perhaps you live in the city but have never walked out onto the downland estate? Or only know your regular dog walking patch? That’s absolutely fine. The council wants to hear from everyone, whether you’ve walked over every inch of the estate or never visited before.

The first set of consultation events start next week, providing a great opportunity for you to get involved. There are online discussion groups happening on 17, 21 and 24 November. You can find out much more about the estate, the process and sign up to attend one of these sessions via the BHCC City Downland Estate Plan webpage.

The session on 17 November is already fully booked but the Council will put on more sessions if the existing dates all fill up, so please don’t let that put you off. We’ve also been told that there will be an online consultation portal going live, which anyone can contribute ideas to.

This really is a vital opportunity to influence the Council’s plans for protecting and enhancing the City Downland Estate. It is a precious resource that should be protected and enhanced for long-term public benefit.

Please make your voices heard.

 

Comments

  • Mr Murdoch Morrison:

    13 Nov 2020 13:47:00

    There seems to be increasing amounts of fencing going up. Not much point in having all this Downland if you’re hemmed in on a muddy bridleway dodging the cyclists and stroppy dogs.

  • Sue Wood:

    13 Nov 2020 15:15:00

    I live close to Hollingbury woods and hill fort, and am particularly concerned about the degredation of chalkland caused by farming and by the golf course. I would be interested to receive any updates on the consultation.

  • Cameron B:

    13 Nov 2020 18:56:00

    I am very happy that this area of land is going to be “rewilded” I am not a fan of golf courses and how they affect the environment, I am an outdoors person and love the Sussex countryside with a passion!
    I enjoy cycling a great deal too, especially mountain biking. I would really like to think that a lot of people will appreciate this new change of events with this patch of land. And I also hope that the council are positive towards cyclists using it too! It has many benefits one being health and another more personal reason is that it has kept me out of trouble and kept me busy maintaining my bikes since my youth, and I’ve seen it doing the same for others too, I really hope that there is some form of discussion regarding cycle use in the area as i think it would benefit the area a great deal, especially during these uncertain times, getting out on a bike or for a walk amongst nature is all you need to feel better again!

  • 14 Nov 2020 09:58:00

    I am always travelling to Surrey, Portsmouth or kent to ride my mountain bike as they are the closest places to ride a variety of things to improve my skills and enjoy the outdoors. it would be brilliant if Brighton had a dedicated mountain bike centre with trails for beginners up to professionals. I believe there is plenty of space to have this with dedicated signs and paths for bikes, walkers, horses and whoever else wants to join in, whilst still keeping a large section to be dedicated to re-wilding.

  • Nicola Gardner:

    16 Nov 2020 11:04:00

    I completely agree with Sussex Wildlife trust priorities. I live in Hollingdean and believe our community truly values our proximity to the Hill Fort, woods and downland.
    It has so many positive benefits for my family.
    In the wider area I particularly would like to see more off road or mountain bike trails.
    When my children do bike jumping in the Hollingbury woods, it is a Rigorous and Exciting sport which they will take into adulthood. However, I fear these sports may be short lived should the paths not be shared safely and with tolerance for all users of the natural and wild spaces.
    Can the council educate the public on the need for cyclists and young people to have some wild spaces-free of the disapproval of car and lorry drivers, dog walkers and golfers? Just saying.

  • Nicola Gardner:

    16 Nov 2020 13:59:00

    I completely agree with Sussex Wildlife trust priorities. I live in Hollingdean and believe our community truly values our proximity to the Hill Fort, woods and downland.
    It has so many positive benefits for my family.
    In the wider area I particularly would like to see more off road or mountain bike trails.
    When my children do bike jumping in the Hollingbury woods, it is a Rigorous and Exciting sport which they will take into adulthood. However, I fear these sports may be short lived should the paths not be shared safely and with tolerance for all users of the natural and wild spaces.
    Can the council educate the public on the need for cyclists and young people to have some wild spaces-free of the disapproval of car and lorry drivers, dog walkers and golfers? Just saying.

  • 18 Nov 2020 12:50:00

    We need to control the light. People underestimate how much harm light pollution is causing. If we don’t control artificial light, and we continue to lose insects at the current rate the whole downland ecosystem will collapse in a couple of decades.

  • mike letton:

    19 Nov 2020 08:37:00

    Thanks for invitation to comment. Our Downs are absolutely crucial to the identity of this area of Sussex. Contrasts of open grassland and wooded slopes give drama, so let’s promote the work of such as John Gapper – collecting and germinating wild-plant seeds from Castle Hill, for example, to then enhance depleted pastures. In the valleys: what about controlling sycamore, the 70 ft weeds which destroy undergrowth in their darkness, so all wildlife moves out? What about controlling ivy?
    Agree with setting out well-considered bike trails, for toddlers, teens and adults, away from quiet footpaths. What about labels in the Stanmer Arboretum, on the specimen trees which no-one remembers from the more organised and optimistic 1950’s. Labels for a “Stanmer Stroll” around the woodland and new Park, refreshed now.

  • Thyone Outram:

    20 Nov 2020 20:02:00

    It looks like 2 more zoom consultation dates in December have been added if you miss the three mentioned here in November.

  • Ray Carter:

    21 Nov 2020 18:49:00

    As a relatively recent convert to mountain biking I have been amazed and delighted at the wealth of footpaths and bridleways available on our doorstep for dog walkers, hikers and bikers.
    On the other hand I am disappointed at the knockers of golf courses which are disappearing fast! West Chiltington and Mannings Heath have been turned into vineyards! The accessibility to affordable courses (to people with lower incomes and youngsters) has been reduced by the loss of Hassocks (to housing) and Waterhall (to “wilding”)! Hollingbury is the last “affordable” course and is also accessible to dog walkers and hikers yet seems to be a target!
    I believe we should try to preserve as many different opportunities as possible!

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