Group fights council’s plans to sell off Downland

Black Robin Farm, Beachy Head, Eastbourne SUS-160217-141108001
Black Robin Farm, Beachy Head, Eastbourne SUS-160217-141108001

A group has been set up on Facebook to try and stop Eastbourne council selling off parts of the Downland.

The council announced earlier this year it wanted to sell off the Downland farms in a bid to raise cash to pay for other projects within the town.

Although negotiations are still at an early stage, a group has now been set up on social media called Keep Our Downs Public which is opposing both Brighton council’s plan to sell parts of the Downland in the National Park and Eastbourne Council’s plans to sell the Downland farms including Black Robin farm

A spokesperson for the group said several areas of countryside owned by the public had already been sold off by authorities without any kind of consultation process.

“This is the thin end of the wedge with this government clearly pushing to sell off public assets,” said a group spokesperson.

Last night (Tuesday) the Eastbourne and district Friends of the Earth group held a meeting on the subject of Eastbourne council attempting to sell off the farms.

A spokesperson for the group said the meeting was packed and added, “Clearly there’s huge dismay and concern among local people about the intended sell-off of publicly-owned downland on the South Downs by Eastbourne Borough Council.

“The new Facebook group is about opposing the selling-off of our precious South Downs.

“It’s public land, our land, and we should be asked whether we want that land sold in the first place.”

A spokesperson at Eastbourne Borough Council said, “Any change in the freehold of the farms within the South Downs National Park will not result in a change in their use.

“The farms will remain farms and the network of footpaths and bridleways will continue to provide visitors with public access across the downland. Any suggestions to the contrary are misleading and unwelcome.

“As a result of the sale, some of the money generated will be spent improving the open downland, which will also remain in public ownership. These improvements will be the only visible changes on the downland following the sale of the farms.”