Black Hole in the heart of Amberley

A pretty village situated on the South Downs Way, one of the most popular National Trails, at the centre of England’s newest National Park.  What better place could you imagine to run a profitable pub?

Yet local people in Amberley are having to fight to keep their pub, the Black Horse, some of whom see it as a fight for the very future of village.  The trouble started in March when the pub closed and the owner, a national chain, started selling off various pubs around the country because it was in too much debt.  Unfortunately, the Black Horse appears to have been sold to a property developer who wants to convert it into housing, rather than someone wanting to run it as a pub.

This has led to local people fighting a spirited campaign.  However, to date they have not been helped by the system, so it would seem.  Given the significance of the application to the socio-economic development of the village, and the importance of the pub in supporting people enjoying the recreational opportunities of the National Park, it is surprising that the South Downs National Park Authority has not called this application in already.  It is currently being handled by Horsham District Council on behalf of the Park Authority, but information about the proposed conversion is hard to find on Horsham’s website.

Villagers have fought and won many battles before such as over the future of their local shop, their local school and proposals for the Wildbrooks which are now an RSPB reserve.  They deserve to succeed again, but to do so they will need the backing of the Park Authority.  It should be taking a firm stance on this development proposal which will undermine National Park purposes as well as ripping out the heart of the village community.  It’s why many people fought the battle to get a National Park.  Now the Authority needs to step up to the plate and be counted.  It can only win it friends, as well as safeguarding village life in the centre of the Park.

Biosphere bid to launch

On Tuesday, 22 May, (International Day for Biodiversity) the Brighton & Hove and Lewes Downs Biosphere Partnership will launch its bid for the South Downs between the River Adur and River Ouse plus the urban area of Brighton & Hove, to become a Biosphere reserve.

A Biosphere reserve is a UNESCO designation of excellence which if agreed would give international recognition to this local environment and its management.  Read Tony Whitbread’s (Chief Exec of Sussex Wildlife Trust) blog on the Biosphere for more detailed information, plus find out about the launch on our Events page.

The Biosphere partnership is made up of local authorities and a number of members from the South Downs Network.  Also involved are the South Downs National Park Authority, Sussex Inshore Fisheries and Conservation Authority, Dorothy Stringer High School, University of Brighton, Natural England and the Environment Agency.  For more information or to become a Friend of the Biosphere, view the Biosphere website.