South Downs

Downland view Enlarge 2x
Photograph © SpellerMilner Design 2004

A typical view looking out across the South Downs.


Send objections to Worthing Borough Council

Arun District Councillor for Findon

The Downs - also called downland, especially in the chalk areas of southern Britain - are characterized by lack of trees and are used mainly as pasture. They are immensely popular with people who enjoy outdoor pursuits, such as walking, cycling, horse riding and hang gliding. The renowned South Downs Way extends all the way from Winchester to Eastbourne, passing close by Findon on the way. Downland is actually rolling upland, so the Downs are up and upland is downland. Logical, eh?

Cissbury Ring is favoured by dog walkers because it can be approached by car, either from Findon Valley (where there's a suitable car park), or from Nepcote, or from Findon Village (where there are few parking spaces). The Iron Age hillfort itself can easily be reached from Findon Village by foot and provides glorious views of the Downs. [How to get to get to Cissbury Ring].

Chanctonbury Ring is rather more secluded and quite a long walk from Findon, but also offers spectacular views of the Downs. [How to get to get to Chanctonbuy Ring].

Church Hill, site of Britain's oldest flint mines, can easily be reached on foot from Findon and offers a spectacular view of Cissbury Ring. [How to get to Church Hill].

Hikers who visit these sites, or travel the South Downs, frequently stop off at Findon's oldest watering hole, the Gun Inn for a pint or two, of real ale!

The South Downs Virtual Information Centre provides information on the bylaws that govern public rights of way in the English countryside.

Leaf image Countryside Code

Whenever you visit the countryside, please just take photographs and only leave footprints, so other people who follow later may enjoy the wild flowers and litter free surroundings. Also, please leave all gates as you found them, ensure any dogs are kept under control and keep footpaths clear. Thank you.


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South Downs National Park

The following is an extract from an article in the 'South Downs Campaign Newsletter' by Robin Crane, Chairman South Downs Campaign. Issue 3 December 2001.

The South Downs National Park public consultation was launched by the Countryside Agency on 27th November 2001. Campaigning for a South Downs National Park began in 1929. Opportunities to have them designated in 1934 and following the National Park legislation in 1949 were missed. As a consequence the area has suffered greatly from development and lack of resources.

The current campaign is strongly supported by all the major national volountary bodies concerned with the countryside as well as many local organizations, including: Council for National Parks, CPRE, CTC, Friends of the Earth, The Open Spaces Society, The Ramblers, RSPB, Society of Sussex Downsmen, Sussex Archaeological Society, The Sussex Wildlife Trust, World Wildlife Fund, Youth Hostel Association.

The Countryside Agency's consultation finished on 28th February 2002.

At a meeting held in Eastbourne, chaired by David Dimbleby 75% out of 300 were in favour of a National Park. Two NOP polls commissioned by the Ramblers' Association in 1998 and 1999 found that over 80% of people in the Meridian TV region supported a National Park. More recently a survey by Arun Disrrict Council found that 80% of people within its District supported the National Park and over 50% felt it important that the National Park held the planning powers centrally.

The proposed National Park extends from Twyford in Hampshire eastwards to Beachy Head in Eastbourne. Findon village is right in the centre of the park.

For further information about the South Downs National Park send an e-mail to Chris Todd, Campaign Officer, via southdowns at or visit the South Downs Campaign Web site

South Downs Campaign logo

The South Downs Campaign is a grouping of over 80 organisations which support the creation of a South Downs National Park. This network of organisations is working for the best possible South Downs National Park and includes:

Council for National Parks, Council for the Protection of Rural England (CPRE), Friends of the Earth (FOE), Open Spaces Society, Ramblers' Association, Royal Society for the Protection of Birds (RSPB), The Wildlife Trusts, WWF-UK, Youth Hostels Association (YHA);

Butterfly Conservation - Sussex Branch, Council for British Archaeology - South East, CPRE Hampshire, CPRE Sussex, CTC South East, FOE Hampshire & Isle of Wight Network, FOE South East, Ramblers' Association Sussex, Ramblers' Association Hampshire, Society of Sussex Downsmen, Sussex Archaeological Society, Sussex Wildlife Trust, YHA South Region;

Ashdown Rambling Club, Benfield Wildlife & Conservation Group, Bexhill Ramblers Club, Bishopstone & Norton Preservation Committee, Bricycles, Brighton & Hove and Mid-Sussex FOE, Brighton & Hove CTC, Brighton Urban Wildlife Group, Catherington Village Residents' Association, Chichester FOE, Chichester Society, Cycle Lewes, Ditchling Society, East Blatchington Pond Conservation Society, East Hampshire CPRE, East Preston & Kingston Preservation Society, East Sussex Transport 2000, Eastbourne Ratepayers Association, Emsworth Residents Association, Federation of Arun District Amenity Groups, Felpham Village Conservation Society, Friends of Lewes, Friends of the West End Henfield, Friends of Waterhall, Funtington Parish Council, Godalming and Haslemere Ramblers' Association, Gosport & Fareham FOE, High Weald Walkers, Keep Our Downs Public, Keep The Ridge Green, Kirdford Conservation Society, Lewes District FOE, Lewes Footpaths Group, Liss Conservation Volunteers, Liss Forest Residents' Association, Liss Village Design Group, Pells Amenity Group, Petersfield Society, Preston & Old Patcham Society, Ramblers' Association - Arun Adur Group, Ramblers' Association - Beachy Head Group, Ramblers' Association - Crawley & North Sussex Group, Ramblers' Association - Heathfield & District Group, Ramblers' Association - Horsham and Billingshurst Group, Ramblers' Association - Meon Group, Ramblers' Association - Mid-Sussex Group, Ramblers' Association - North Hampshire Downs Group, Ramblers' Association - Rother Group, Ramblers' Association - South West Sussex Group, Ramblers' Association - Waltham Group, Rotherlands Conservation Group, Slindon Common Residents' Association, South East Hants Ramblers' Association, South of High Street Angmering Residents' Association, Summersdale Residents' Association, Sussex Pathfinders Rambling Club, Sussex Ouse Restoration Trust, The Angmering Society, The Brighton Society, The Grace Eyre Foundation, The Kingscliffe Society, The Round Hill Society, Villagers and Countryside, West Liss Residents' Association.

To make a donation please make cheques payable to South Downs Campaign and send them to the Campaign Officer. To join or become a supporter please contact the Campaign Officer for details.


Chris Todd
Campaign Officer
South Downs Campaign
PO Box 3473
Tel 01273 563 358
Fax 01273 553 044
Mobile 07889 302 229



Make sure you respond to the South Downs National Park public consultation.

Please write to the ministers and lobby your local and county councillors, many of whom appear to be ignoring their electorate and opposing the National Park.

Constituency Locata enables you to find out which constituency you are in, who your local MP is and how to contact them.

Since September 1999 when the Countryside Agency started to look at designating the South Downs as a National Park there has been a lot of speculation about what National Park status would mean for the South Downs. Much of this has been based on misinformation and misunderstanding. Here are some of the many reasons why you should support the designation of the South Downs as a National Park.


1 - National Park purposes

A National Park is established for 2 statutory purposes:
To conserve and enhance the natural beauty, wildlife and cultural heritage and
To promote opportunities for the public understanding and enjoyment of the special qualities of the area These provide a clear focus for the protection and manage-ment of the whole area.

2 - A positive Authority to co-ordinate and deliver

A National Park Authority is a special purpose local authority run by local people. It is not a QUANGO. National Park Authorities are set up to make National Park purposes a reality - through their own work e.g. grants to farmers for sensitive farming practice, and add value to others working for the area. They are permanent and therefore able to take forward long-term projects.

3 - Protecting the area

A National Park Authority would be the planning authority for the area. This would provide consistent planning policies and a strategic approach across the whole area. Planning powers are one of the most effective ways of protecting an area. Although a National Park controls development it does not stop it if it is sensitively designed, appropriately scaled and in keeping with the area's special characteristics. A Park Authority would be able to help improve the quality of development.

4 - Enhancing the landscape

One of the biggest opportunities in the South Downs area is the potential for enhancing wildlife, landscape and cultural heritage. A National Park Authority will be well placed to do this.

5 - Managing recreation

The South Downs already has over 32 million visits per year. This is likely to rise with the increasing population in the South East regardless of whether there is a National Park. A National Park Authority does not promote tourism - this is the job of the tourism board, local business and councils. The Park Authority would have the power, resources and focus to manage the recreational pressures.

6 - Beacons for sustainable development

Park Authorities are well-placed to be at the forefront of sustainable development. Park Authorities have the scope to be innovative and there are many examples of projects piloted in National Parks that have been rolled out to the wider countryside - eg. environmentally friendly farm schemes.

7 - Supporting local people

National Park Authorities have a statutory duty to seek to foster the economic and social well being of local communities in ways that are compatible with National Park purposes. This could be in a multitude of ways e.g. helping support village shops, promoting local produce and supporting public transport for local people as well as visitors.

8 - Funding benefits

A National Park designation would bring in far greater funding for conservation than the area receives with its current status. 75% of this funding comes from the National Exchequer. The 25% that comes from the local authorities is reimbursed by the government, making it effectively 100% centrally funded. This would lead to substantial savings for councils who currently support the Sussex Downs Conservation Board. The existence of a National Park would also help to attract additional external funding (e.g. from Europe, the Lottery and landfill tax).

9 - Boundary

Designating a National Park means that the boundary is looked at afresh and areas currently excluded from the AONBs which merit special protection will be included. The new boundary would be permanent and meet today's views and needs.

10 - Adding value

A National Park Authority will employ expert staff, which will add value to the work of existing bodies such as councils and voluntary sector organisations.

Copies of the consultation document are available free of charge from the Countryside Agency. Telephone 0870 120 6466 and ask for CA90 (summary) or CA89 (full consultation report with detailed maps).


The following is based on an extract from an action sheet entitled Write on Time! dated December 2002/January 2003.

Despite the good (and historic news) on 14 November 2002 when the Countryside Agency Board unanimously agreed to recommend to Government that it set up a SouthDowns National Park, this is a critical part of the designation process.

At the end of January 2003 the South Downs National Park Designation Order was placed on deposit for 28 days. People need to take immediate action.

It is essential that as many people as possible then write in support of the designation of the South Downs as a National Park so that the Government is left in no doubt that this is what we want, and want soon. Latest estimates by the Countryside Agency state that a National Park Authority may not be set up until 2007!

It is also important that if you want an area included in the National Park that you register your objection to the exclusion of that area from the Countryside Agency's proposed boundary during this time. If you don't you will not have the right to appear at the (likely) public inquiry and put your case in front of an independent inspector.

What you needed to do
Now the Designation Order has been placed on deposit you should write in to formally register your views. You need to get your response in by 28th February 2003. Please urge friends, family and colleagues to write too.

What should you say?
You are of course free to write whatever you like but we urge all our supporters to make sure they say that they:

  • Support the designation of the South Downs as a National Park.
  • Would like to see it set up as soon as possible and believe that waiting until 2007 or later is unacceptable and unnecessary.
  • Support the boundary in general except for a particular area (or areas) that should be included in the National Park. (Object to this area/these areas being excluded.)
  • Support the proposed administrative arrangements, particularly the National Park Authority having strong planning powers.

Where should you send it?
You should send your letter to:

Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs
South Downs National Park Secretariat
4/24 Hawk Wing
Temple Quay House
2 The Square
Temple Quay

Fax 0117 372 8102

Your views matter!
Please spare the time to help safeguard the future of the South Downs.

UPDATE - The deadline was 28th February 2003. The consultation period has now ended!

PDF files
Newsletter - August 2003: Issue 5 - Strong backing for National Park
Flier to lobby the WSCC: Have Your Say!
West Sussex County Council proposed to spend £200,000 of your Council Tax opposing a South Downs National Park!
News Release - 4 November 2003: The Final Stage?
News Release - 14 November 2003: Adur Valley Shock
News Release - 12 December 2003: Arundel proposal welcomed
South Downs Campaign welcomes agreement on Arundel Variation Order
Countryside Agency Press Release - 26 January 2004
Variation Order Published for National Park Boundary at Arundel
News Release - 30 January 2004: Support for Variation Order
South Downs Campaign supports Arundel's setting being included in the South Downs National Park
Newsletter - Spring 2004: Issue 6 - Public Inquiry going well
News Release - 26 April 2004: Extending the Park
Newsletter - Winter 2004/05: Issue 7 - Hands off!
News Release - 13 December 2004 - Downs Inquiry finally ends
Flier - 2 March 2005 - Your Say!
News Release - 14 March 2005 - The forgotten countryside
Newsletter - Spring 2005: Issue 8 - Crowded out!
News Release - 13 June 2005 - SEERA to ignore public opinion?
News Release - 31 October 2005 - Narrow outlook of housing consultation
Please lobby NOW!
Newsletter - Winter 2005: Issue 9 - Last push for National Park
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PDF files
News Release - 4 April 2006 - Let's get down to it!
Flier - 5 May 2006 - A clear vision for the South East?
News Release - 19 June 2006 - Regional Plan threatens South Downs
Newsletter - Autumn 2006: Issue 10 - Frustrating Times
News Release - 10 November 2006 - Funding cuts threatens South Downs' projects
Newsletter - Summer 2007: Issue 11 - Two steps forward
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Some of the links below are PDF files
Newsletter - Summer 2008: Issue 12 - A Note from Bill Bryson
Environment Agency newsletter January 2009 - River basin bulletin (The Water Framework Directive in the South East River Basin District)
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PDF files
Brighton Downs by Dave Bangs
The South Downs by Michael George
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