Decision due on plan to safeguard countryside sites

An East Sussex beauty spot could benefit from £1.4 million of new
investment under plans to protect and enhance the future of four
countryside sites.
Cllr Nick Bennett, East Sussex County Council deputy leader, will next
week consider a proposal to transfer ownership of Seven Sisters Country
Park to the South Downs National Park Authority.
If given the go-ahead as preferred new owner, the organisation has
pledged £1.4 million to improve the environment and visitor facilities at the 280-hectare site near Seaford.
Cllr Bennett will also decide on proposals to transfer the Ouse Estuary
Nature Reserve and Riverside Park countryside site to Newhaven Town
Council, and Ditchling Common Country Park to Sussex Wildlife Trust.
The four sites were among those identified for possible transfer in the
county council’s Countryside Access Strategy, which was approved by
cabinet two years ago.
Rupert Clubb, county council director of communities, economy and
transport, said: “If approved, this move would protect these much-loved sites and enhance them as places to be enjoyed for generations to come.
“We’re proposing transferring sites to not-for-profit organisations with
expertise in conservation, involving local communities and improving
the visitor experience.
“All the sites will remain unspoilt, in public ownership and fully accessible to residents and visitors to enjoy the stunning countryside East Sussex has to offer.” Trevor Beattie, chief executive for South Downs National
Park Authority, said: “We are grateful to East Sussex County Council for
considering our proposal to further enhance this wonderful national and
international icon.
Under the plans, Newhaven Town Council would receive a freehold on
the Ouse Estuary Nature Reserve and a long-term lease on Riverside
Park, while Sussex Wildlife Trust would lease Ditchling Common
Country Park.
Jacky Main, clerk to Newhaven Town Council, said: “We are delighted
that East Sussex County Council is considering allowing Newhaven Town Council to take ownership of these two much loved open spaces to enable them to be looked after by the local community and enjoyed for many,
many years to come.
“If approved, we will work with the county council, the local community and other partners to enhance the ecology of both sites and to improve recreational and educational opportunities for local people and visitors to the town alike.”