Communicating the South Downs


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The South Downs National Park Authority is the statutory planning authority for the National Park area. We are the 8th largest planning authority in the country in terms of the number of planning applications we receive each year and also one of the largest in terms of the geographical area we cover.

Our role as the planning authority is to control and influence the development of land and buildings within the National Park’s boundaries. The South Downs is a living landscape with vibrant communities and businesses. Without more affordable houses and work spaces these won’t survive. What we need is properly managed development that contributes to both peoples’ lives and our landscapes. With good planning we can safeguard views and dark night skies; support the local economy; promote recreation; enable affordable local housing; and make sure that our green spaces are properly valued and cared for.

To do this effectively we have to balance the statutory duties and purposes of the National Park, safeguarding the natural environment and existing built heritage, with the needs of individuals, the local population supporting rural communities and local businesses.

Partnerships with Local Authorities

We are responsible for planning across the entire National Park and have agreed unique partnerships with the local authorities operating within the National Park boundaries. For five of these we deal directly with all planning questions, advice and applications. The other nine authorities deal with these on our behalf.

Planning Policy

Planning policy plays a key role in shaping the future of development within the National Park. Good planning can protect landscapes, views and night skies; support the local economy, promote recreation and create affordable housing; and make sure that our green spaces are properly valued and cared for.

We have had statutory responsibility for planning policy in the National Park since 1of April 2011.

Planning policy can affect development in many different ways so our approach to it has to reflect the needs of people who live in South Downs National Park, those who work here and those who visit. Our planning policies will be set out in the National Park Local Plan and must shape development in a way that conserves and enhances the natural beauty, wildlife and cultural heritage of this protected landscape.

Finding Out About Planning Applications

The fastest way to find out about planning applications is to use our online search function.

In some cases, for example with listed buildings, we are legally obliged to publicise applications in the press and you will find these advertised in the most relevant local newspaper.

In addition a weekly list of applications is sent out to all parish councils and Local Authorities across the National Park. In some cases local newspapers also choose to publish full lists of the relevant planning applications for their area.

Where to go for help with planning?

We deal directly with all planning in the following areas:

  • Arun
  • Brighton and Hove
  • Eastbourne
  • Wealden
  • West Sussex, Hampshire and East Sussex (Minerals & Waste issue only).

Former WSCC ‘Regulation 3’ developments e.g. schools, libraries, care homes, fire stations etc. are dealt with by the local authority dealing with planning on our behalf, or by the SDNPA directly within Arun.

Stay on our website to find the information you’re looking for on:

  • Pre-application advice
  • Reporting unauthorised works
  • Finding information about past enforcement complaints
  • Specialist advice

The following local authorities deal with planning on our behalf. Please visit their websites directly (through the links provided) or contact them by email.