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Funding boost of £3m for local communities across South Downs National Park

Funding boost of £3m for local communities across South Downs National Park

December 19, 2023

Mother and daughter enjoying Stanmer Park where a new access link to the South Downs Way is being created

New off-road routes for walkers and cyclists, new play areas, school improvements and work to enhance a river are among the projects to benefit from a major funding boost from the South Downs National Park Authority.

More than £2.5m will benefit 42 community schemes across Hampshire, West Sussex and East Sussex.

The investment comes from the Community Infrastructure Levy (CIL), which is paid by developers to support new local infrastructure, with the Authority playing an administrative role.

As well as the £2.5m, 37 parish councils across the National Park will be taking a share of just over £550,000 to support grassroot projects in their area.

The CIL funding is the highest amount ever given out by the National Park Authority.

Among the inspiring projects will be those that help connect people to the countryside, including the creation of a new 2.5-mile walking and cycling route linking Stanmer Park in Brighton to Ditchling Beacon and the South Downs Way.

East Sussex will also see improvements to Malling Recreation Ground in Lewes, as well as the creation of a new “wild” play area for children at Seven Sisters Country Park.

In West Sussex, significant funding is going towards extending the Centurion Way from Chichester along the old railway line to link with the South Downs Way at Cocking. There will also be the refurbishment of the village hall at Bury and Midhurst Rother College will benefit from a new canopy on its amphitheatre.

Ecological enhancements will be made to the River Rother to help fish populations.

In Hampshire, a series of projects will benefit from funding, including access improvements at St Catherine’s Hill at Winchester and at Queen Elizabeth Country Park, near Waterlooville, where a dew pond will also be restored into a wildlife-rich haven. Petersfield Rugby Club will benefit from a new renewable energy scheme to reduce running costs, while Petersfield Open Air Swimming Pool will be getting new toilet facilities.

Kelly Porter, Major Projects Lead, who helps to oversee CIL funding in the National Park, said: “As 2023 draws to a close, we’re pleased to announce our highest ever amount of CIL funding to help local communities across the region.

“Having access to green spaces and first-class facilities are vital for the wellbeing of local communities, both inside and outside the National Park. So many of these initiatives will help connect people of all ages with the countryside and it’s wonderful to be able to make that difference.

“This significant CIL funding underlines the value of good planning and shows the benefits that flow from high-quality development in a protected landscape such as the South Downs.”

The South Downs National Park Authority will open the call for projects for the 2023/24 round of Community Infrastructure Levy (CIL) funding on 1 January 2024. The window for submission of Expressions of Interest will be open until 12 April 2024.

CIL funding is designed to be spent on infrastructure to support growth within the National Park. The National Park’s corporate plan priorities over the next three years are Nature Recovery, Climate Action and A National Park for All and the authority welcomes potential bids that support these priorities.

For more information, guidelines and application forms please visit www.southdowns.gov.uk/community-infrastructure-levy/revision-of-spending-cil/applying-for-cil-funds-for-an-infrastructure-project/

About CIL funding

The CIL collected by the SDNPA can be used to fund a wide range of infrastructure, including transport, flood defences, schools, play areas, parks, cultural and sports facilities.

When spending CIL, it is the intention of Government that the Authority focuses on the provision of new infrastructure.

CIL will help to bridge the funding gap in delivering infrastructure but it will never resolve it. Therefore there is a need to prioritise the infrastructure projects put forward to us for consideration. This year’s funding is able to support 42 schemes across the length and breadth of the National Park. This is from over 450 applications made for funding.

Please refer to the Infrastructure Business Plan (IBP) (which encompasses the Infrastructure Funding Statement) for details on the prioritisation process of infrastructure projects and an overview of projects which have secured CIL funding.

In areas where development has taken place, Parish or Town Councils will also receive direct CIL payment known as the ‘Neighbourhood Portion’ and have the ability to use this money on projects that are a priority for them. 

The Regulations allow them to spend the money on a wider range of projects than the National Park Authority can.

For further information regarding the ‘Neighbourhood Portion’ please see the Authority’s CIL Parish Guide.

The full list of projects to benefit by county

Please note while funding is provided from the Community Infrastructure Levy, the schemes will primarily be delivered by partners and community groups and the CIL investment often only makes up a portion of the total cost of the project.

East Sussex

Malling Recreation Ground, Lewes – path improvements for walkers and cyclists. £67,000

Beachy Head – chaplaincy improvements. £50,000

Lewes Rowing Club – building new clubhouse. £49,000

Linklater Pavilion, Lewes – replacement lift. £15,000

Seven Sisters Country Park – creation of ‘Wild Play’ area. £50,000

Stanmer Park to Ditchling Beacon Link to South Downs Way – creation of 4.2km off-road route for walkers and cyclists. £181,505.70

West Sussex

Centurion Way Phase 2 – construction of part of a new 5.3km walking and cycling path from West Dean to South Downs Way at Cocking (following the former Chichester to Midhurst Railway Line) £650,000

Midhurst Rother College – canopy to amphitheatre. £125,000

Petworth Park Sports Ground – sports pavilion redevelopment. £100,000

Bury CE Primary School – classroom extension. £100,000

Fittleworth – improvements to Serpent Trail. £100,000

Bury Village Hall – refurbishments including sustainability improvements. £100,000

North Mill, Easebourne – improvements to the River Rother to comply with Water Framework Directive for fish. £50,000

Midhurst Green Walkway – improvements from the Grange Community Leisure Centre to the Old Town including planting and signage. £25,000

Lilac Cottage (part of the Old Library), Midhurst – refurbishment for Midhurst Community Hub. £15,000

Stedham Recreation Grounds – improvements including installation of wheelchair accessible roundabout and accessible path. £11,000

Steyning Downland Scheme – restorative grazing project. £5,570

Park Mill, Shillinglee Road, near Plaistow – restoration project including part of Shillinglee Lake Site of Special Scientific Interest. £50,000

Findon village – new interpretation boards. £2,575

Lavant Village Green – restoration works. £2,000


St Catherine’s Hill, Winchester – replacement steps to southern slope and reducing recreational pressures to Site of Special Scientific Interest. £114,650

East Meon Village Hall – refurbishment (including sustainability improvements) £100,000

East Meon Byway 46 – byway improvement works including surfacing and drainage. £25,000

East Meon – improvements to multi-use games area. £7,500

Newman Collard Playing Fields, Liss – drainage improvements works. £78,000

A32 Farringdon, Chawton – flood alleviation scheme. £70,000

Queen Elizabeth Country Park, near Clanfield – improvements to South Downs Way, increasing access for all. £60,000

Queen Elizabeth Country Park, near Clanfield – restoration of Butser Dew Pond £20,000

Churcher’s College / Penns Place, Petersfield –  430m permissive path linking south side of Penns Place to River Rother footpath. £50,000

Hampshire-wide – Hampshire County Council’s Parish Pollinators Project increasing diversity in hedgerows and other planting. £50,000

Petersfield Open Air Swimming Pool – toilet refurbishment. £50,000

Petersfield Rugby Club – green energy initiative (renewable energy to reduce increasing energy costs) £40,000

Liss Forest Recreation Ground – improvements including replacement play area, drainage improvements and expansion of basketball area. £40,000

East Worldham – public realm and highway improvements. £25,000

Butser Ancient Farm, Chalton – accessibility improvements. £20,000

Twyford Community Centre – refurbishment including sustainability improvements. £20,000

Mingledown Woods, Chawton – access and ecological improvements including tree planting. £20,000

The Ford and Berry Lane, Twyford – footpath improvements £15,000

Petersfield Central Car Park, Park Road –  installation of Changing Places Toilet. £15,000

Stroud – replacement bus shelter. £10,000

Allan King Way / Nuns Walk, Winchester – footpath improvements. £8,000

Stepping Stones Playgroup, Sheet – improvements to outdoor learning and play area, including creation of covered play area. £4,000