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Consultation on the Eastbourne Downland Whole Estate Plan

From Sunday 9 February to Sunday 5 April 2020 we consulted over our draft Whole Estate Plan. This consultation has now closed we aim to agree the final Eastbourne Downland WEP by the end of April 2020.

Eastbourne Borough Council holds the freehold to over 4000 acres of Downland, of which around 3000 acres is farmed and 1000 acres open access land; the Downland forms part of the South Downs National Park. We are putting a Whole Estate Plan (WEP) in place in order to protect, enhance and conserve the Downland we own and manage for future generations.

What is a Whole Estate Plan?

The South Downs National Park Authority (SDNPA) has planning responsibility for the park and is encouraging the various landowners across the park to enter into a WEP to enable “…collaboration between individual estates and the SDNPA to achieve the ambitions of the organisation and the purposes of the National Park”. 

In line with SDNPA guidance, WEPs are divided into four areas:

Vision  - In June 2019, Cabinet agreed a draft vision for the 25 year time-frame of our WEP that captured the need to conserve the iconic Downland and cultural heritage, provide resilience and adaptability to climate change, pests and disease, support our farmers and ensure an Estate that is self-sustaining and financially resilient for the future. The vision was formulated following public consultation and known future environmental priorities.

Asset Audit - This part of the plan establishes a complete picture of all the assets on the Estate – both built assets, such as farm buildings, and ‘natural’ assets, such as habitats and ecosystems. 

Ecosystem Service Analysis - This is a tailored SWOT (Strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats) Analysis looking at the Estate’s assets and ‘ecosystem services’. These ecosystem services provide us with life’s essentials: clean air and water, food, fuel and raw materials, climate regulation, flood management, pollution filters and opportunities for improved health and wellbeing. The aim is to identify the greatest opportunities for positive impacts in our ongoing stewardship of the Estate. 

Action Plan - This final part of the plan takes the opportunities and threats identified in the Ecosystem Services Analysis and sets out our aspirations for future projects that meet the vision and overall aims of the WEP.

Next steps

We will review consultation responses and draft a consultation report. We will then make any final changes to the draft Downland Whole Estate Plan. The revised plan will be submitted to the Director of Regeneration and Planning for sign-off in Early May 2020, in consultation with the Cabinet Member for Climate Change. 

The final plan will then be submitted for consideration and endorsement in Summer 2020.