I am writing to express strongly my opposition to the sale of the downland farms. The downland was purchased by an earlier generation of Eastbourne residents to preserve it from development. I believe that we should honour those intentions and not sell the farms under consideration.
The downs are not just a physical entity, they are an emotional and psychological landscape – they represent quintessential England and, corny as it sounds, they have a place in people’s hearts. How is the council going to deal with the people of Eastbourne, or even of the UK, if those farms are sold to a Russian oligarch, or a Qatari sovereign fund or the Chinese State?
These entities have enough money to wear down a council or a National Park body, or even a State, in order to overturn covenants and build on the land. Sterling is weak and £15-30 million would be peanuts. Has anyone considered the awfulness of these possibilities?
On a more positive note, I have a suggestion. Why not change these farms to create a better financial future for Eastbourne? Why not plant vineyards and develop an Eastbourne champagne? The land could be used to raise a mortgage of £15-30 million in order to fund the start-up, and the revenue could be used to pay back the mortgage and enable the council to do those things the council wants to do but without selling the farms.
And, as the Aussies have discovered, vineyards are a fabulous tourist magnet ... tourism is what Eastbourne does.
Our landscape is priceless – let’s keep it for ourselves and future generations!