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Boomtown Festival in the South Downs National Park gets go-ahead for 6 years!

In April 2019 the South Downs National Park Authority resolved to grant a further temporary planning permission, for another 6 years, to the Matterley Estate to change the use of approximately 2 square miles of downland from solely agriculture, enabling a music festival and a sports event to be held every year. In so doing they ignored Government advice not to grant more than one temporary planning consent and Government Policy that major development such as this should not be located in National Parks

This new permission will extend a similar 3-year temporary permission granted in 2016.  The permission covers over 1,200 acres (over 500 hectares) of open downland and woodland including an SSSI. The site includes the route of the South Downs Way (diverted during festivals).

To see how the Hampshire Chronicle reported the news CLICK HERE  The decision now means the site at Matterley Farm in the South Downs National Park, can carry on hosting the annual festival, which has dramatically increased in scale over recent years (last year’s attendance was 65,000 and the new consent gives plenty of room to double that at least) as well as an annual sports event until the end of 2024.  The new consent will be in addition to the existing, pre-National Park, consents for an international level motocross circuit, which attracts tens of thousands and a tank-driving course.


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National park friends group calls for action on eyesore

Shoreham cement image

The West Sussex Gazette has just published the following from the Society on its letters page


It’s hard to miss and even harder to resolve, but can we talk turkey about the old Shoreham cement works?

As the national park society for the South Downs National Park, our objective is conserving and enhancing the special landscape quality of the downs and its quiet enjoyment.  And, across the whole length of the park from Winchester to Eastbourne, there are no greater obstacles to that enjoyment than the sight of the old cement works in the Adur valley. With the advent of the new national park authority, its legal duty to prepare a local plan for the park, and the scope offered to communities through neighbourhood planning to shape their own future, we surely have an opportunity now to take action to clear this eyesore and establish a mix of acceptable land uses for years to come.

Realistically we can’t see the park authority trying to buy out the site from its owners to reinstate green fields. It has a value arising from current and prospective use and permissions and any agreed scheme will need to reflect that, but we operate a plan-led system and we need to make progress in establishing a master plan for the site which helps to meet local and parkwide needs. This is not where you would ideally start from in developing new commercial, housing or leisure uses in terms of sustainability, transport access or visual impact on the national park, but we are where we are.

We wish success to those in the local community, the district councils, the county council and at the national park in their planmaking endeavours. We hope local residents and others will contribute enthusiastically to the debate. This society will be keen to participate and will be looking for solutions that respect the location in the heart of our newest national park.

Steve Ankers, Policy Officer, South Downs Society

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A Walk in the Park

The annual South Downs Way walk was first organised by West Sussex County Council in 1980 as a one-off event to celebrate an anniversary of the Ramblers. Today, 34 years later, the event is as popular as ever. Although, naturally, much has changed – the trail is 20 miles longer now extending all the way to Winchester,  and runs through the heart of Britain’s newest National Park – the only national trail contained within its own park boundaries.

South Downs Way Walkers 2012

We are delighted that the current organisers of this annual walk – Footprints of Sussex – have invited the South Downs Society to join them in walking the trail this year. Members of the Society can join the walk from 7th to 15th June, and receive a 10% discount simply by quoting their Society membership number.

Each day walkers are picked up by coach from one of four pick-up points, Shoreham, Worthing, Arundel or Chichester, and taken to the start of that day’s walk. Coaches depart regularly through the afternoon to return people to these points. Local farms, churches, pubs and an ice cream maker join in, providing refreshments along the way – a truly community event.

There are places still available at all the pick-up points; simply log in to and join in the fun.


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Celebratory Walks for the National Park’s 3rd Anniversary

The UK’s newest National Park will be three years old on Monday 1 April and the National Park Society – the South Downs Society – is celebrating with special walks throughout the region.

Robert Self, a Society spokesperson, said “For over sixty years, campaigners worked for the South Downs to be recognized as a National Park. Its outstanding landscape and network of historic pathways finally received the protection they deserved in 2010 and we will be celebrating this 3rd anniversary by enjoying the stunning spring scenery on three superb walks”.

Robert Self will be leading the celebration in Hampshire in conjunction with Owen Plunkett from the Ramblers: a 6 mile circular walk from the Sustainability Centre, East Meon. Meeting at 10 a.m. on Sunday 31st March, for a brief presentation on the work of the Centre and departing at 10.30 to walk along the South Downs Way (bring a picnic lunch) returning via the source of the River Meon around 2.30 p.m. Then follows the opportunity to hear presentations from SDNPA Board Member, Doug Jones and Robert Self. Tea and cakes available for purchase in the café.

Alternatively enjoy the stunning scenery on the West/East Sussex border and gather at Clayton Windmills Car Park (OS Explorer map reference 122/302134) by 9.15 a.m. on Sunday 31st March for a 10 mile circular walk taking in Stanmer Park, Westmeston, Ditchling and Keymer. Bring a picnic lunch or visit a nearby pub at the end which should be around 2 p.m.

Already have plans for the Easter weekend? Then on Sunday 7 April come to Butts Brow Car Park at Willingdon (OS Explorer map reference 123/580017) by 9.45 a.m. for a delight of big open views, neat valleys and forest rides. There are some steep climbs in this 7 mile circular walk and a lunch stop at the Eight Bells in Jevington returning to the car park around 2.30 p.m.

The National Park was created on 1 April 2010, and the National Park Authority took up its full powers as planning and access authority on 1 April 2011. The Society has praised the National Park Authority for its work, by acting decisively to protect and enhance the precious landscape of the South Downs.

“As the critical friend of the National Park Authority, it is our job to support the Authority and to be frank when we feel they’ve got it wrong” said Robert Cheesman, the Chairman of the South Downs Society. “On the whole, we think they are doing an excellent job, with particular highlights being the improvement to grassland close to the South Downs Way as part of the special Nature Improvement Areas in the UK; the Authority’s support for the Mosaic Project, which helps people from black and minority ethnic communities to enjoy the National Park; and the creation of the Sustainable Communities Fund for projects to improve the Downs, which has enabled local communities to achieve so much.”

Everyone is invited to join in on the celebratory walks, all of which are free. Walkers are advised to bring a drink and a bite to eat, a sunhat or waterproof – depending on the Great British weather of the day – and to wear sturdy shoes. More information about any of the walks can be obtained from the South Downs Society on 01798 875073. 25 March 2013