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We have written to Brighton councillors to condemn the sale of Brighton’s unique downland, much of it within the South Downs National Park.
A number of sites have already been sold and others are under offer, with the council’s agents Savills. Brighton and Hove City Council plans to sell more than 100 acres of downland to raise money to manage Stanmer Park, among other purposes.
We were active when the council acquired the land in the 1930s and are dismayed by the plans. We believe that there could be a threat to public access and to the value of the sites for their flora and fauna. There would be no requirement for a private landowner to care for the land in the public interest.
The land is of unique public value, consisting of sites of special scientific interest, scheduled ancient monuments and open country enjoyed by all for free access.
Threatened sites such as Plumpton Hill, Saddlescombe Nature Reserve and Devil’s Dyke Field are of immense public value. The land was purchased because of its conservation value and to ensure people could enjoy the freedom of the downs for ever. What guarantees can there be that the land and its enjoyment will be properly protected once it is sold?
We know that the public treasures these places, and we consider it short-sighted of Brighton Council to flog them off. We call on Brighton to halt these disastrous land-sales.