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Producing a Whole Estate Plan

Producing a Whole Estate Plan

The area now designated as the South Downs National Park includes significant privately owned and farmed areas of the landscapes. It is also the most heavily populated National Park in the UK. The National Park brings many tangible benefits, however the management of this landscape and these benefits is intrinsically linked to many of the large estates and farm operations located within the National Park.

The National Park Authority adopted its Local Plan in July 2019. The Plan is landscape led with the concept of Ecosystem Services and Natural Capital the core focus of the approach. The Local Plan recognises the significant influence of the estates and farms across the National Park and the impact the management activities of these estates have in the short, medium and long term. We also recognise the challenges faced by those who own and operate these estates to both manage the land and maintain some the most significant cultural/heritage assets within the South Downs National Park. Through the preparation of a Whole Estate Plan (Local Plan Strategic Policy SD25: Development Strategy) it is hoped that land owning organisations and the National Park Authority can work together

Why: Enabling collaboration between individual estates and the National Park Authority to achieve the ambitions of the organisation and the purposes of the National Park.

What: A non-statutory plan which demonstrates the overall position and aspirations of an organisation. Plans do not have to cover a specific time period, and may be updated to reflect changes in circumstance or withdrawn if appropriate. Plans can also be presented for endorsement by the National Park.

Who: Whole Estate Plans are designed to support organisations which are generally large landholdings which include complex commercial, social and environmental activities. It is the intention of the NPA that no organisation which can show practical reasons for the preparation of a WEP will be discouraged. However it is generally expected that WEPs will generally be land holdings in excess of 400 acres, with multiple diverse activities, and employing or having residents in excess of 30 people.

How: We have created a basic format which we feel is both practical for smaller organisations with limited resources and/or aspirations for development, and which can be expanded to accommodate those estates who are seeking to support large scale multi-facetted development programmes.

You can read more information in our guidance document which sets out how a Whole Estate Plan could be structured: 


You can find more information about getting spatial information to inform your Whole Estate Plan in our mapping package:


You can find links to sources of socio-economic and demographic data to inform your Whole Estate Plan here.


"The Downs...too much for one pair of eyes, enough to float a whole population in happiness."