Campaigners take to the downs during the protest in November 2009

Campaigners take to the downs during the protest in November 2009

Campaigners have won a six-year battle for access to downland in a national park.

Members of the Worthing Downlanders are celebrating after the area close to the ancient hill fort of Cissbury Ring was designated open access land.

The decision was the culmination of a process that began with a protest meeting on Tenants Hill and Mount Carvey on the outskirts of Worthing six years ago.

Trevor Hodgson of the campaign group, which began life as Stop the Cissbury Sell Off, said: “When hundreds of local people gathered on a blustery November morning in 2009 to protest against the sell-off of public land around Cissbury Ring, little did we know that it would take just over six years to come to a successful resolution.

“Stop the Cissbury Sell Off was rapidly formed to persuade Worthing Borough Council to change its mind.

“At a subsequent council meeting, attended by over a hundred protesters, the sale of 157 acres at Mount Carvey and Tenants Hill was abandoned.”

Campaigners were concerned about the future of the public land and other downland areas and the Stop the Cissbury Sell Off group became Worthing Downlanders.

Mr Hodgson said: “Negotiations started with the council in order that the land would be granted statutory open access so that people in the future would be able to roam and enjoy this part of the Downs. Another concern was that an appropriate conservation plan was put in place.”

A working group was set up that included Worthing Downlanders, Worthing Borough Council, Natural England, the National Trust and South Downs National Park Authority.

Mr Hodgson said: “There were many details to sort out, including how open access could be balanced with active use of the land for grazing.

“However Worthing Downlanders are now delighted to announce that recently Mount Carvey and Tenants Hill have become formally dedicated open access land.

“This is a great result for people power and means that we will have the right to roam in perpetuity.

“It is also a good result for Worthing Borough Council as they have helped provide an area on the Downs that everyone can now enjoy.

“We would like to take this opportunity to thank everyone who has supported the campaign, the council and all the other working group members.”

Kate Ashbrook, general secretary of the Open Spaces Society, which supported the original campaign, said: “We congratulate the Worthing Downlanders for their persistence, and Worthing Borough Council and its partners for dedicating public access to this magnificent downland.

“It extends the original access land at Cissbury Ring into a horseshoe, making an extensive stretch of land on which we may roam freely.

“Being close to the urban fringe and within the South Downs national park, these open, breezy downs are of special value to the large populations at their foot. It was a great relief when we saved them from sale, and the new public-access rights are the icing on the cake.”

Some articles the site thinks might be related:

  1. Access campaigners win battle with hospital trust
  2. Victory for campaigners as Government announces u-turn on forests
  3. Mountaineers’ charter bid to boost countryside access
  4. Open Spaces Society plans celebrations to mark 150 years of campaigning
  5. Society invites nominations for first Open Space Award