I wonder if the council has thought about the longer-term results of selling the downland farms. There has been controversy at East Dean where the parish council and many local people have objected to the granting of planning permission for the Gilbert Estate to erect 11 residential units on agricultural land within the National Park.
The Gilbert Estate has rights to buy back ‘without restriction’ the downland farmland which the Estate was compulsorily required to sell to the Eastbourne council in 1929. The price must be determined by an independent valuer who will no doubt take into account that the net annual income from all four farms is ‘less than £60,000’. Once the council decides to offer the farms back to the Devonshire and Gilbert Estates there will be no turning back. The very real risks must be that the sales prices will be far less than the council has anticipated and the risks of development far greater.