Tag Archives: Stanmer Park

Stanmer Park Woodland Management and Protection


Via: Dominic Alves (flickr)

 Stanmer Park’s woods are a great place to enjoy informal recreation but they are in poor condition.

The council has produced a plan to protect the woodland for the long term benefit of the city and is inviting the public to comment.

Find out more and make comments.

Public information sessions will be held on Thursday February 1 and Saturday 3 February 2018 at Stanmer Tea Rooms from 9am to midday.

The draft Woodland Management Plan has been produced by an independent forestry consultant on behalf of the council’s parks projects team.

Before submitting plans to the Forestry Commission, we are seeking the views of interested parties, including park users and residents. The council is hoping to submit the plan for approval by March 2018.

Via: Katariina Järvinen (flickr)

The draft plan sets out how the woodland can be managed over the next 10 years to

  • Maintain and preserve open access.
  • Build resilience against Ash Dieback and other diseases and ensure existing woodland cover is maintained.
  • Increase biodiversity and protect nationally and locally rare flora and fauna.
  • Produce semi commercial timber extraction of coppice products, wood fuel and timber.

The plan is also supporting the Stanmer Restoration Project HLF application by:

  • Protecting historical, archaeological, and environmental elements on the estate.
  • Providing related activities such as rural skills, forest schools and wood based produce.
  • Increasing the city’s offer for volunteering work such as coppicing, pollarding, scrub clearing and general woodland management practices.

Managing the woodland is an important part of the Stanmer Park Restoration project, a joint initiative between Brighton & Hove City Council, Plumpton College and South Downs National Park Authority and funded  by the Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF) .

The plan can also be viewed in full on request at Hollingdean Depot Learning and Resource Centre (please contact the parks projects team 01273 294737 to arrange) and will be available at the Stanmer Tea rooms sessions.

The consultation closes on 12th February 2018.

Via: Dominic Alves (flickr)

£3.8m lottery funding for Stanmer Park approved

Brighton & Hove City Council’s bid for £3.8 million Lottery funding to restore Stanmer Park has been successful.

Brighton & Hove City Council has received a confirmed grant of £3.8 million from the Heritage Lottery Fund and Big Lottery Fund’s Parks for People scheme, and the news is being welcomed across the city.

“It’s fantastic news,” said Cllr Gill Mitchell, Chair of the Environment, Transport and Sustainability Committee.

“This project has the potential not just to restore a substantial part of Stanmer Park to its former glory, but develop the area and provide exciting new experiences, employment and opportunities for residents and visitors both now and in the future.

“We couldn’t have asked for a better start to the New Year!”

The Stanmer Park and Estate Restoration Project will see around 20 hectares of the park’s landscape, and Grade II listed and other buildings restored and given new life. The total cost of the restoration project is £5.8 million and the council plans to cover the remaining costs through match funding and revenue and contributions from partner organisation and donors.

For the past two years council officers have been working with representatives from Plumpton College, the South Downs National Park and other organisations including Historic England, to prepare a Masterplan for the park following a £300,000 grant from Parks for People.

Trevor Beattie, Chief Executive for the South Downs National Park Authority, said:
“Stanmer Park is a unique survival from the Georgian age and this grant will restore its original landscape. It will also make it much easier for the people of Brighton and Hove to access the National Park on their doorstep.”

Alma Howell, Assistant Inspector of Historic Buildings and Areas for Historic England added: “The success of this bid will start a process of helping to remove Stanmer Park from our Heritage at Risk Register by delivering a number of restoration projects and a stronger heritage led vision for the estate.

We look forward to continuing to work with the council to find positive sustainable solutions for the remaining ‘At Risk’ factors.”

The Masterplan aims to improve the main entrance and 18th century parkland, Walled Garden and Nursery and the adjacent depot area.

This includes:
• Restoring the landscape and heritage features
• Addressing traffic and parking issues, and improving access to the park
• Relocating the council’s City Parks depot
• Restoring the Walled Garden and surrounding area
• Delivering horticultural and heritage gardening training and food production
• Providing educational and learning opportunities
• Explaining the heritage and importance of the Estate
• A long term vision for the estate over the next 10 years.

The proposals also include re-allocating car parking, creating some additional spaces, and overflow provision, to accommodate some of the extra 300,000 visitors expected each year.

The car parking improvements include a new landscaped car park at the Patchway – an area currently used for car parking and the Cityparks depot which will also replace parking areas at Stanmer House.

The Lower Lodges will see the current parking areas formally laid out and landscaped to include an extra100 spaces while smaller car parks and ad-hoc parking along the main drive will be removed.

A Transport Plan includes cycle parking, a proposed cycle hire hub, improved walking and cycling routes, and signage from Falmer station.

The restoration project will include a variety of opportunities for volunteering and training in horticulture, heritage gardening and food production, along with facilities for learning about the heritage of the estate, historic landscape and the South Downs.

Plumpton College has agreed, in principle, to manage and maintain the walled garden on a lease from the council.

Ian Rideout, Head of Faculty Forestry, Horticulture and Foundation Learning at Plumpton College said: “We are delighted to be a key partner in this project that will greatly benefit the local community.

“We look forward to continuing to provide learning opportunities at Stanmer Park for local people to access education and training in the walled garden.”
Work on the project will start in the New Year with most restoration works carried out in 2018.

Plans for selling parts of Downs put on hold

From The Argus


Campaigners are celebrating after plans to sell publicly owned downland were put on hold.

Brighton and Hove City Council’s policy, resources and growth committee voted last night to stall any sales of the remaining sites which had been earmarked.

A joint amendment from Conservative and Green councillors admitted the plans should have received greater scrutiny and changes to council policies were required to prevent such sensitive sales going under the radar in the future.

It followed an intervention by the Keep Our Downs Public campaigners who have been fighting the proposals. Pressure has been mounting on Brighton and Hove and Eastbourne councils to back down over controversial plans to sell publicly owned downland.

South Down chief executive Trevor Beattie this week became the latest environmentalist to call on the councils to rethink their plans while campaigners have again made their voices loud and clear at a public meeting.

Brighton and Hove City Council is in the process of selling more than a dozen buildings and downland farm sites to help fund its project to restore Stanmer Park to its 18th century roots.

The sale of sites at Plumpton Hill and Poynings have been put on hold until January while alternatives to fund the Stanmer Park project are drawn up.

Eastbourne Borough Council is looking to sell more than 3,000 acres of its downland holdings to farmers to finance its development of Devonshire Park.

But moves have come under increasing pressure from environmentalists.

Mr Beattie’s intervention may be the most significant intervention yet as both councils have defended the sell-offs by claiming the land will still be protected by the national park.

He said: “They are not just local assets, they are national legacies. “In every case we have made our concerns clear and called for a rethink about these countryside sales. We urge councils to consider their responsibilities and, if they believe that there really is no alternative, put in place covenants or conditions to protect the land from damaging uses which might not be caught by the planning system.”

At the committee meeting Keep Our Downs Public campaigner Dave Bangs told members there had been “a major failure of vigilance” in allowing the majority of sales to go through already. He called for a permanent stop on all downland sales, redefining of downland as core assets and to begin a public discussion as to the future of the authority’s 12,500 downland estate.

Meanwhile Chris Todd of Friends of the Earth has said it was not enough for Eastbourne Borough Council to give assurances the land would remain as farmland. He said: “When the council received the downland it was on the understanding that it would remain open chalk downland. It was not ploughed up until after the Second World War. What the council really wants to be doing is considering how they can restore some of that open access. People love their downlands which politics seem to forget at their peril.”

Stanmer Park restoration edges closer

From The Argus


The restoration of a historic park has moved a step closer despite environmentalists’ concerns it will become choked with cars.

The £5.8 million plans to return Stanmer Park to its 18th century roots have moved a step closer after gaining the unanimous support of the South Downs National Park Authority.

The plans were criticised by environmental groups for proposals to increase car parking spaces by 50 per cent with a new car park of more than 250 spaces at the park’s heart.

The park already attracts 300,000 visitors by car annually but that could rise by 40 per cent by 2020.

The next hurdle for the project will come next week when the Heritage Lottery Fund board decide on the project’s funding.

The plans include the restoration of the historic Lower Lodges entrance and doubling its car park, a new kiosk with cycle hire and café, a Green Drive for pedestrians and cyclists and the restoration of the listed Frankland monument.

The park’s Walled Garden will be turned into a working garden with cafe, garden centre and education facilities while the Citypark depot will make way for the new car park and meadows.

Scores of objectors wrote to the authority raising concerns about the loss of trees and increased car parking.

Planning committee members welcomed the project but echoed concerns about car parking in the historical park.

But members also said that it was important the park had sufficient capacity for the growing number of visitors it would need to become sustainable.

Brighton and Hove City Council parks development manager Rob Dumbrell said the restoration project was designed to take Stanmer off Historic England’s at risk register and bring its heritage to wider public attention.

Steve Ankers, speaking on behalf of the South Downs Society and the Campaign to Protect Rural England in opposing the plans, said more car park spaces would encourage more motorists when the council should be focussing on sustainable transport options.

He said that commercial growth from a new café and garden centre would come at the expense of the enjoyment of the park.

Speaking after the meeting, Chris Todd from Brighton and Hove Friends of the Earth, said: “When we supported a national park it was to stop this sort of highly damaging development.

“The superstore sized central car park will generate a large amount of traffic in the park which will undermine its special qualities and could set a dangerous precedent elsewhere in the South Downs.”

Councillor Gill Mitchell, Brighton and Hove City Council’s environment committee chairwoman, said: “We are really pleased that the SDNPA supports our designs that have been influenced by public consultation to restore Stanmer Park to its former Victorian glory.

“Today’s decision is a major step forward in being able to bring the vision of the council and its partners to reality.”

Concerns over Council’s sale of downland

From The Argus


Land near Plumpton Hill put up for sale by Brighton and Hove City Council for £150,000.

More than 100 acres of downland held in public ownership for decades is being flogged off in the biggest sale of its kind for 20 years.

Campaigners are calling for a freeze on the 120 acre downland sell-off by Brighton and Hove City Council warning of damaging repercussions for the South Downs with a loss of public access and reduced conservation at important wildlife sites.

The sales are being arranged by the cash-strapped council, which has to find £18 million of cuts in the next financial year and £145 million by 2020.

The sale includes two sites of special scientific interest, part of a Scheduled Ancient Monument, a 50-year old nature reserve and two vital parts of the Devil’s Dyke setting according to opponents of the sale.

Council bosses said the land represented just one per cent of its 12,000 acre Downland estate, the equivalent of around 7,000 football pitches, with the sale of “less valuable heritage assets” in a bid to help fund the £5.8 million Stanmer Park restaurant project.

Campaigners are concerned that the sales could be just the beginning of a wider sell-off but council officials insisted no more are planned at present.

Land sales causing campaigners concern include three acres of The Junipers at the old Sussex Wildlife Trust Saddlescombe Nature Reserve sold to a private buyer for the “paltry sum of £35,000”.

Environmentalists say it is the sole remaining site for juniper in East Sussex, a well-known site for rare orchid species and bats, and “the single most important plot” in the whole Downland estate.

Devil’s Dyke Field has been sold to its tenant while the ten-acre Park Wall Farm at Falmer was snapped up for £175,000 though the council said it would be protected as grazing land.

Campaigners are also unhappy about the proposed sale of the 22-acre site The Racecourse outside Poynings, “a wonderful fossil site” that is the match of the better-known Bridport Cliffs in Dorset, and the loss from public ownership of Plumpton Hill Scarp though the council has said this will continue to be farmed by Plumpton College with public access fixed in perpetuity.

Environmental campaigner Dave Bangs said all the land should be kept in public ownership in perpetuity.

He added: “These sales open the door to privatisation of Brighton’s entire Downland Estate.

“Without democratic public accountability we must expect threats to public usage, neglect, damage to important wildlife habitat, inappropriate development, and more shooting and hunting.”

Chris Todd, of Brighton and Hove Friends of the Earth, said: “We have real concerns about this, most of the public is largely unaware of what is being done.

“I think people thought it was just a few minor old buildings or pieces of land of small value whereas they are proposing to sell hugely important wildlife sites.”

A city council spokeswoman said: “The sites chosen are non-core assets owned by the council, some of which are outside the city’s boundaries.

“Most of the Downland Estate is within the South Downs National Park and protected by the highest level of statutory protection possible.

“When the council sells land we take advice from specialist agents to make sure appropriate control mechanisms are put in place to protect the council and the city’s residents against future development or possible changes in use.”

Click here for full story.

Sadness at decline of Brighton and Hove’s parks

From The Argus

Autumn colours in Stanmer Park.

Autumn colours in Stanmer Park.

Brighton and Hove’s parks boss has expressed her sadness at the decline in our city’s green spaces.

Councillor Gill Mitchell, chairwoman of the environment committee, contacted The Argus after we highlighted the plight of Preston Park in last Monday’s paper.

She said: “It saddens me that many of our residents, city parks staff and gardeners can remember a time when there was more funding available and a real sense of pride in the city’s parks, and are now having to witness this decline.”

The city’s parks are suffering following budget cuts over the last few years.

Council bosses now propose cutting a further £600,000 from the budget.

The city’s largest park, Stanmer, is hoping for £4 million from the Heritage Lottery Funding to overcome a number of problems which are widespread across Brighton and Hove’s green spaces.

Cllr Mitchell said: “It’s encouraging to hear how much people really value their neighbourhood parks and recreation areas, and want to see them protected and preserved into the future.

“It’s good to see The Argus taking an interest in the future of parks and open spaces in the city.

“The parks and open spaces budget is one of the council’s smallest budgets- approximately £14 per person a year – and the continuing central government funding cuts means the council is no longer able to provide the levels of funding currently needed to maintain its parks and open spaces.

“This leaves us with no option but to radically rethink the way we manage parks in the city.”

The city’s parks budget was £4 million last year but the department’s budget is due to be cut by £600,000 to £3.4 million between now and 2020.

The council has launched a consultation into the future of its 147 parks and green spaces warning that they will not be able to save all of the city’s 53 playgrounds as they tighten their belts.

Community groups and residents could be asked to take responsibility over parks.

Residents are being asked to support replacing play equipment with natural play features carved from trees which require less maintenance.

The consultation continues until October 28.


THE future of the city’s largest park will be dependent on heritage funding.

Brighton and Hove City Council has applied to the Heritage Lottery Fund for almost £4 million to restore Stanmer Park.

Councillor Gill Mitchell described the funding bid as “a one-off opportunity to halt the decline of the city’s largest park.”

While those closest to the park agree that funding is desperately needed, the question of priorities remains.

In July 2014 the council made two applications for Heritage Lottery Funding. There was an unsuccessful grant application to renovate Home Farm but a £300,000 grant to develop a proposal to regenerate the walled garden and other parts of the landscape was accepted.

Since then, council officers have been working with Plumpton College and the South Downs National Park and Heritage England to prepare a master plan for the park and develop a long-term vision for the estate.

A decision on the Heritage Lottery Fund bid is due in December.

A public consultation on Stanmer Park earlier this year highlighted concerns about access, signage, dog mess, parking, cycle lanes and the lack of public bus services.

For campaigner Jamie Hooper, who founded the Friends of Stanmer Park, the survival of the park is essential – not just for Stanmer residents like himself but for all in Brighton and Hove.

He said: “I’m looking from the perspective of the person who lives in a tower block or terraced cottage and wants to come out with the family and kick a ball about and have a cup of tea in the tea room.

“The problem is nobody thinks about the park as an amenity for the wider community. They don’t think about it as a city park but as a private property for an aristocratic family.

“I don’t think what’s being planned is going to be good value for money.”

Some of the issues currently facing the park include damage to the access road which has been badly patched up over the years.

Many of the farm buildings have also been left to fall into disrepair.

Among the conservation plans include the felling of 200 trees and moving another 50 to restore the park to Capability Brown’s (the park’s designer) original vision.

However, for many users their priorities are that the park can be maintained in the future for all of the city’s residents, who don’t care where the trees are located.

Of more sentimental concern is the fact that many of the trees are memorials with people’s ashes sprinkled at their trunks.

Mr Hooper added: “I don’t think most park users particularly care if the park exactly resembled Capability Brown’s vision. Most probably don’t know who he was. But that’s not what makes Stanmer special.”

Mr Hooper said he would rather see a kiosk and toilets or cycle hire facilities.

The crumbling public toilets in the village are set to be moved but he said the money could be better spent repairing them.

“If the council officers making these decisions were talking about their own property they would never let it fall into this state.

“As a businessman I don’t think they are making the best use of the money.

“I’m sure there will be benefits but perhaps not as great as there could be.”

The plans will also reduce the amount of parking space within the park, which campaigners fear may send visitors elsewhere.

The city council has plans to rent buildings next to the walled garden to Plumpton College.

However it is understood the college will not pay any rent until the walled garden, which it runs, is profitable.

The park, which falls within the South Downs National Park for planning purposes, is owned by Brighton and Hove City Council.

University of Sussex £500m expansion set for green light

From The Argus

Artists’ impressions of new student village

The first phase of a £500 million project to modernise University of Sussex’s campus and accommodate 5,000 more students is set to be given the green light.

Proposals to create more than 2,100 new student rooms on the East Slope of the university’s Falmer Campus will go before the city council’s planning committee.

Councillors are being advised to grant permission to the proposals which would also lead to the creation of a new union bar and entertainment venue as part of a new six-storey building.

Several 1970s student accommodation blocks will make way for the new development while new buildings will also be built on campus car parks.

If granted permission, work could begin early next year with the first phase ready for the start of the 2018/19 academic year and with all work completed by 2020.

The plans, drawn up by architects TP Bennett, are the first stage of a £500 million building programme which the university estimates will create 2,400 permanent jobs.

An outline planning application consenting to the university to build more than 4,000 student rooms, 60,000 sqm of new academic facilities and 2,000 sqm of additional floorspace was granted on appeal in July last year.

Students have ended up with smaller bedrooms as the university tweaked the plans in discussion with officers to build fewer residential blocks to create “a more spacious feel” to the campus.

In responses to the planning applications, the South Downs National Park Authority called on the university to plant “forest sized trees” and not just “street tree lollipops” to ensure the new development merges “seamlessly” with the existing campus.

In total 340 trees will be felled as part of the building project which council officers said was “to be regretted”.

The county ecologist also warned that two “low-status” bat roosts are based at buildings set to be demolished.

Historic England has also voiced concern that moving the student union away from Fulton Court into a new building could dilute the original intentions of architect Sir Basil Spence.

The body concludes new uses should be found for Fulton Court to allow it to remain at “the communal heart of the campus”.

Council planning officers said: “The proposed development is of a high standard of design and will integrate well with the overall master plan and the original Sir Basil Spence design concept without causing harm to the setting of adjacent listed buildings, the Stanmer Park Conservation Area or the South Downs National Park.”