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South Downs National Park

The South Downs National Park (SDNP) was designated on 1 April 2011. The SDNP Authority is the statutory planning authority for the national park area. It is the 8th largest in Britain in terms of planning applications received each year and also one of the largest in terms of the geographical area it covers.

The SDNP extends from Winchester in the west to Eastbourne in the east. It covers not only the chalk downland, but also the varied landscapes of the Western Weald to the north of the chalk and running up to the Sussex/Surrey border near Haslemere.

Check if you live in the SDNP?

Use the address search on the SDNPA website to check if your property, or application site, lies within the SDNP.

The role of the Authority

The role of the SDNPA is to control and influence the development of land and buildings within its boundaries. To do this effectively the SDNPA has to balance the statutory duties and purposes of the National Park, safeguarding the natural environment and existing built heritage, with the needs of individuals, the local population, supporting rural communities and local businesses.

Who deals with planning applications in the SDNP?

The SDNPA has agreed and implemented unique partnerships with the 15 local authorities operating within the park boundaries. Those authorities with agreements in place determine the bulk of planning applications in their area, on behalf of the SDNPA. These authorities have delegated powers and are responsible for the day to day processing and determination of the majority of planning applications. Lewes District Council determine applications within the park for Lewes district and Eastbourne borough.

The SDNPA deal with applications for more significant development within the park. If the application is deemed 'significant' by the SDNPA, the application will be 'called in' and determined by a case officer at the SDNPA. A list of called in applications dealt with by the SDNPA and guidelines on significance are available on their website.

Where do I submit my planning applications?

If you live within the National Park you should continue to submit your planning applications to Lewes District Council in the normal way. Please visit Apply for planning permission for further advice.

If you submit your application through the Planning Portal, this will be routed to Lewes District Council who will deal with it on behalf of the SDNPA. 

All communications relating to planning applications in the SDNP that are being dealt with by Lewes, should be directed to Lewes District Council and not the SDNPA.

Where can I view applications in the SDNP?

All applications made since 1 April 2012 are available to view on the SDNPA website. You can view documents for each planning application and make comments (if the application is still open for receiving representations).

Applications made prior to 1 April 2012 are available to view on our public access website.

Purposes of the SDNP

The purposes of the SDNPA are to:

  • conserve and enhance the natural beauty, wildlife and cultural heritage of the area
  • promote opportunities for the understanding and enjoyment of the special qualities of the national park by the public

The SDNPA have a duty to seek to foster the social and economic wellbeing of local communities within the national park in pursuit of the purposes. This can include managing visitor sites and rights of way, visitor centres and car parks, sustainable transport and promoting local goods and produce connected with the landscape.

Planning Policy

The SDNPA are responsible for preparing and adopting the planning policies for the park area. Visit the current planning policy section of the SDNPA website to find out more.