HUNDREDS of people gathered to carry out urgent work on a nature reserve threatened by housing.

About 200 Whitehawk residents got their hands dirty and got to work at Whitehawk Hill, Brighton, which park rangers were banned from working on until recently.

The campaigners also demanded Brighton and Hove City Council abandon plans to build housing projects on the reserve.

Friends of Whitehawk Hill’s Dave Bangs said: “Whitehawk Hill has been a sacred place for 5,000 years, since the first Neolithic farming people.

“We won’t let it be sacrificed in 2020.”

Volunteers from across the city gathered at the reserve on Sunday to restore paths which had become overgrown with gorse.

Meanwhile Extinction Rebellion campaigners erected a yurt and supplied residents with fresh-pressed apple juice, veggie burgers and soup.

City council housing chief Cllr Gill Williams supported the rally, while councillor Martin Osborne joined in on the work.

And council ranger Paul Gorringe supervised the volunteers.

The rally came days after campaigner Mr Bangs called on the city council to avoid building houses in nature reserves.

“Nature is declining at every level. We watch it disappear between our fingers on Whitehawk Hill,” he said.

A city council spokesman said it was only developing on “urban fringe” land like nature reserves because Government planners recommend it.

But campaigners dispute this.