Protecting our downland for future generations

Residents in Brighton & Hove are being offered a ‘once in a lifetime’ opportunity to help shape the future of the city’s downland.

Brighton & Hove City Council is putting together a ‘Whole Estate Plan’ which will set out a vision for how our downland could be managed over the next 100 years. The plan will be called the City Downland Estate Plan.

The new plan will include all council owned land adjoining and within the South Downs National Park.

Discussion groups

To help create the plan, residents, businesses, occupiers, users, groups and organisations in the city and surrounding area are invited to join one of three online discussion groups to find out more about the project and put forward comments and suggestions.

The council has commissioned Landscape Architect Kim Wilkie to produce ‘A Brighton Landscape’ as a starting point for the developing Vision and to both prompt and encourage a public conversation.

The online discussion groups, taking place on 17, 21 and 24 November and 4 and 12 December, will be facilitated by consultants Planning for Real, independent specialists in large community consultation engagement exercises.

Residents are also being encouraged to take part in a public consultation, which will be soon be available on the council’s website. (Paper copies will also be available.)

Increasing public access

The council’s City Downland Estate consists of around 12,500 acres and is mostly situated within the South Downs National Park. The estate was initially acquired by the council around 100 years ago, with the aim of protecting the town’s water supply and controlling development.

In 2006, the council created the City Downland Estate Policy, which aimed to reconnect the people of Brighton & Hove to a more biodiverse downland with better education, improved access, and sustainable agriculture.

The policy has delivered improvements to the estate, including a significant increase in public access.

New opportunities

Councillor Amy Heley, chair of the Environment, Transport & Sustainability Committee, said: 

“As the effects of climate change are becoming increasingly apparent and in line with our pledge to become Carbon Neutral by 2030, we are at another pivotal point where a new long-term vision is required for our City Downland Estate.

“The new Whole Estate Plan will refresh and develop our existing downland estate policy, building on our current successes and finding new opportunities to meet the demands of a challenging future and a changing world.

“We hope residents will take this once in a lifetime opportunity to help us protect and enhance our precious downland for future generations.”

What is a Whole Estate Plan?

A Whole Estate Plan (WEP) is a document, prepared by landowning organisations. It sets out their assets along with opportunities and threats the organisation may encounter. It also explains their plans for the future. 

A WEP should include the landowners environmental and social assets. As well as considering:

  • management issues
  • financial 
  • economic challenges 
  • development projects

The idea is to encourage a discussion between land owning organisations and the South Downs National Park Authority (SDNP). 

They will look at all land holdings so they can be as holistic as possible in deciding the best approach to their future management.

The SDNP recognises the two main challenges faced by those who own and operate these estates. These are:

  • managing the land
  • maintaining some of the most significant cultural and heritage assets within the South Downs National Park

A Whole Estate Plan will help land owning organisations and the SDNP work together to deal with these challenges.

More information about Whole Estate Plans.

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