The South Downs National Park Authority (SDNPA) has given a ringing endorsement to Eastbourne Borough Council’s Whole Estate Plan.
The 25-year environmental management plan focuses on the conservation of the downland and ensuring it has a sustainable future, including supporting the council’s tenant farmers.
The plan has taken two years to complete and is the result of a very close working relationship with the SDNPA and consultation with numerous stakeholders, including downland interest groups and local residents.
Councillor Jonathan Dow, Cabinet Member for Climate Change, said: “I would like to congratulate and thank our officers for their expertise and great diligence in completing this incredibly important piece of work. It is an enormous achievement and worth nothing that we are the first local authority to receive the endorsement.
“Let’s be perfectly clear, our downland is the beating heart of Eastbourne and so our role as custodians of it brings great responsibility. I am also now certain that within the rich history and tapestry of the downland, the passage of this plan will be judged most favourably.”
Headline projects within the plan include enhancing the part played by the Beachy Head Countryside Centre in signposting activities, promoting the downland and supporting education and volunteering activities.
Alongside this, subject to a future business case, the currently redundant buildings on Black Robin Farm will become a place for people to learn about and engage with the Eastbourne Downland through workshops and courses. Existing cottages on site will be brought back into use as holiday accommodation, hopefully in time for Christmas.
Andrew Lee, Countryside and Policy Manager for the South Downs National Park Authority, said: “We were delighted to endorse this Whole Estate Plan. The Eastbourne Downland forms the gateway into the National Park from its eastern end and is a hugely important place for nature and for people.
“It is great to see such a clear and positive vision for its future and we look forward to working with the council on improving its habitats, access and facilities as part of the Heritage Coast.”
The council’s downland sits within the South Downs National Park and consists of 3,000 acres of farmed land as well as 1,000 acres of open access downland. The downland in Eastbourne welcomes over one million annual visitors.
The Whole Estate Plan can be viewed on Eastbourne Borough Council’s website www.lewes-eastbourne.gov.uk/downlandwep