WALKERS, ramblers and active families can celebrate after more of the South Downs was declared open access land.

Brighton and Hove City Council has created free public access to another 670 acres of Sussex downland.

The area, which runs from east to west between Stanmer Park and the A23, is about ten times the size of Brighton’s Preston Park.

It adjoins existing Open Access land the council created in and around Stanmer Park in 2006.

Combined, the two areas total 1,600 acres, stretching about two miles wide and between half a mile and a mile from north to south.

Five miles of new footpaths and bridleways have been created, meaning walkers on the Sussex Border Path can divert on to a route keeping them further away from busy roads.

Works have involved installing gates and cutting a new path up a steep bank at Braypool.

Open access allows people to roam anywhere across the land, except where there are farmed crops.

The surrounding landscape includes ancient burial mounds on top of Tegdown Hill, lynchet terraces formed by ploughing dating back many centuries and the Chattri monument to Indian soldiers who died in the Royal Pavilion hospital during the First World War.

Chairman of the environment committee, Councillor Pete West, said: “It’s been one of our main intentions to open up more council owned downland to residents and visitors.

“Of course these rights involve responsibilities too and that entails respecting the landscape, farmers, their crops and livestock.

“This is precisely what we should be doing with our new UNESCO Biosphere status, bringing people and nature together and helping to improve people’s health and wellbeing.”

Jeremy Burgess, Eastern Downs area manager for the South Downs National Park, said: “It’s great news that Brighton and Hove City Council is dedicating this new open access land, providing some good links to some hidden treasures in this part of the national park.

“We look forward to working with them to help visitors enjoy and understand the significance of the area, and access it in sustainable ways.”

Other recent council moves to increase access to the Downs have included opening paths off the top of Ditchling Road and a new cycle and pedestrian track between Woodingdean and Falmer.