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Following Government advice to stay safe and protect the NHS, we are working hard to continue to deliver for you. Find information here on how to enjoy the National Park virtually, and how our services are operating during this time.

Citizens Panel

Citizens Panel

A Citizens Panel is a group of residents (usually between 1,000 and 2,000 people) who are surveyed regularly about their opinions on a particular issue, or set of issues.

The South Downs National Park (SDNP) Citizens Panel was set up in 2017, since when its members have been surveyed about a wide range of subject areas. You can find out more about how we make use of this information further down the page.

The South Downs National Park Authority (SDNPA) is the first UK National Park Authority to have a Citizens Panel, which gives us an exciting opportunity to engage directly with residents about important matters.

Use the FAQs below to find out more about the SDNPA Citizens Panel.

  • What do SDNP Citizens Panel members do?

    While the information that surveys provide is invaluable to the SDNPA, the time commitment for individual SDNP Citizen Panel members is small. 

    Members are asked to participate in two online surveys a year, one in Spring and one in Autumn. 

    Occasionally, we invite members to take part, additionally, in one-off research studies. Recent studies include testing the local plan policies maps and feeding back on design in the National Park as part of the Peoples’ Choice Design Review Award.

    Involvement is entirely voluntary, and members may opt out at any time.

  • What have SDNP Citizens Panel members done so far?

    Panel members have already participated in several surveys and a number of one off studies, giving valuable insights and feedback. Some examples of the ways in which this data is being used already, or will be in the future, follows:

      • Our Volunteer team plans to use the results from a survey about volunteering opportunities to diversify their offering and help them recruit a wider range of volunteers
      • Information about how panel members like to spend their leisure time will be used by our access and engagement teams to help them to plan future events, as well as to create walk and cycle ride leaflets. This will also help us to resolve some of the barriers that prevent people from visiting the National Park.
      • Our Heathlands Reunited team plans to use the results on dog walking behaviour and awareness of the Take the Lead campaign to develop their work over the final two years of the project.
      • Colleagues working for the South Downs National Park Trust will use feedback relevant to specific aspects of the Trust’s work to target their next marketing campaign.

    We have also used feedback from the Panel to develop our health and wellbeing strategy and will explore this in more detail later this year through a focus group or online community with a small group of panel members.

  • Future research

    The Citizens Panel will help us to measure how awareness about the National Park and the work of the National Park Authority changes over time, as well as to establish if people’s knowledge of the South Downs National Park Trust is increasing.

    We will ask the Citizens Panel to test how effective our communications work is and whether awareness of the National Park boundary has improved with the introduction of road signage.

    We will also use data from our Citizens Panel surveys to measure people’s awareness of key campaigns and initiatives, as well as the impact of interpretation material (e.g. signs, leaflets, information boards, etc.). This will give us insight into how to make messages eye catching and motivating, and how they can be used to encourage positive behaviour change.

  • I’d like to join the SDNP Citizens Panel. What do I do?

    We’re looking for new members of the SDNP Citizens Panel, which currently has over 1,500 members.

    If you’re interested in joining and live in the South Downs National park, or within 10km of it, take a look at our Citizens Panel leaflet to find out more email


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