Members may be aware from local news reports that the South Downs National Park Authority (SDNPA) are running a public consultation with a view to finalising an Action Plan in regard to the former cement works site at Upper Beeding. When published and approved, this document would offer prospective developers a guide as to the types of acceptable development for this very large and important site.
The consultation document recognises the importance of this site for wildlife, but assumes that some form of built development is inevitable. A mix of housing, light industrial and tourism uses is envisaged. Unfortunately, the cost of making the site safe so that development could go ahead would be in excess of £23 million, and in order to recover these costs any development will need to be on a large scale – which SOS does not expect to see in a National Park.
The SOS submission makes the case that the lower Adur Valley is already under stress, and roads and recreational use have reduced its value for wildlife. We do not feel that this situation should be allowed to deteriorate further. We also do not believe that development on the huge scale required to provide any return on the investment would achieve the Authority’s stated aim of enhancing the landscape.
Instead, at a time when we face a biodiversity crisis, there is a unique and lower cost opportunity to restore and create an exceptional site for nature and people by allowing the area to re-wild. Indeed this is probably the largest habitat restoration opportunity in the whole of the National Park.
A copy of the Society’s submission letter can be viewed here.
If you wish to input to this public consultation please email your views to the SDNP at firstname.lastname@example.org or complete those parts of the on-line consultation that you feel are appropriate for your views, here.