ESCC transfer of the Seven Sisters Country Park to the National Park due to this summer – at last!

Some time ago East Sussex County Council (ESCC) began divesting itself of some landholdings. This included the Seven Sisters County Park. The South Downs Nation Park (SDNPA) took the opportunity to take over the country park. But transferring property from one local authority to another is a bit of a slow process. A ‘Heads of Terms’ was agreed with ESCC in August 2020. The Government approved the transfer in December 2020. Following this the formal process of legal conveyance with ESCC started in January 2021. Now, the two parties are due to exchange contracts this summer. Also the SDNPA are to carry our some building work. We understand that contractors should be starting in July/August and completing in early 2022. The SDNPA has developed a vision for the country park and a Landscape Management Plan which will go out for public engagement during this summer (2021).

The SDNPA have decided that Seven Sisters Country Park will be operated by a ‘trading company’, and will take over operation of the site in January 2022. The trading company, which is owned entirely by SDNPA, will have its own board, 4 of whom (maximum of 6) are appointed by the National Park. From the recent report given to the SDNPA Authority we see that these SDNPA members are members of the company’s board: Vanessa Rowlands, Stephen Whale and William Meyer.

Seven Sisters Country Park Education Centre is operated by the Sussex Wildlife Trust but is currently closed. Sussex Wildlife Trust (SWT) are updating this centre. SWTsay: “Extensive building works are due to start on site in July 2021 and scheduled to finish in January 2022.”

The Seven Sisters Country Park is next to Friston Forest which is managed by Forestry England (formerly the Forestry Commission), covers an area of 2.79 square kilometres, or 278.73. It is the largest area of recently established forest in South East England. It has a network of horse riding, walking and cycling trails.

Seven Sisters Country Park is an incredible place to visit and a designated site of Special Scientific Interest within the South Downs National Park and Heritage Coast. In addition, the 280 hectares of downland, coast and riverine estuary has been declared an Environmentally Sensitive Area. The Country Park backs onto the expansive Friston Forest:

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