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Brighton and Hove farmland opened to the public
An area of farmland the size of nearly 540 football pitches is to be made fully accessible to the public under new plans.
Brighton and Hove City Council will confirm proposals to open up the land on the outskirts of the city at a meeting on Thursday, October 11.
The area in question includes 91 acres to the east of Ditchling Road, 239 acres in Patcham Court Valley, 441 acres at Scare Hill and Tegdown and 67 acres near Plumpton.
The land has been owned by the council for generations but there has been limited or no access to the public.
However, following talks with tenants and farmers, council officers have come to an agreement.
The measure, which is being made under the terms of the Countryside and Rights of Way Act, will allow the public to walk freely without the need to stick to paths.
Councillor Pete West, committee chairman for environment and sustainability, said: “Downland is a wonderful resource and now these areas owned by the city will be open for the public to enjoy.
“Declaring the land ‘open access’ was a Green manifesto pledge last year, and I’m delighted to see it completed.
“It’s something I’ve been personally committed to seeing happen for many years. Now people of the city will always be able to roam freely in this space that is theirs.”
Organised games and commercial activities are outlawed as well as taking anything away from the area such as fallen trees.
Chris Smith, from the Sussex Area Ramblers, said that his group welcomed the move.
He said: “We are pleased, however, we still think that there is work to be done – especially with Toads Hole Valley.
“The Greens said that it was their aim to get the area into the National Park but so far that hasn’t happened.”
Pete Crawford, head of community wildlife at the Sussex Wildlife Trust, said: “Increasing people’s access to these sites is important as it will help them enjoy, appreciate and protect their local countryside.”
However, the proposal has sparked concerns in the farming community with many worried about the increase in visitors on their land.
Mary Passmore, who has lived and worked at Coombes Farm, Lancing, for over 60 years said: “Farmers are generally more than happy to see people enjoying the countryside, but they have stick to the rules.
“A farm is someone’s place of work and it must be treated in the same way as any other.”