LETTER: This area seems ‘long ignored’

With regards to the article on The Sussex Heritage Coast (Express 11/5/18), yes we in Sussex are fortunate to have the South Downs and of course the best and most iconic part of the Downs is where it meets the sea. However Sussex down-land by the sea does not start or end at Splash point at Seaford. It continues to The Heights to the west of Newhaven, the last piece of coastal downland until you reach the Isle of Purbeck in Dorset.

This area seems to have been long ignored and undervalued by the authorities and has been excluded from the National Park loosing the protection that status would have given it.

Newhaven and Peacehaven Heights is a very special place, which offers the people of the town a place to breathe the sea air, to relax and to walk their dogs.

It is an important green space between the main port of East Sussex and the ribbon development which stretches to Brighton.

The area is a haven for wild life some of it is still farmed providing the right habitats for the multitude of sky larks, so rare else where. Some of it is covered in trees, bushes and scrub, which is important in providing cover and food for resident birds but is also critically important for the arriving migrating birds.

We have to ask why this area was left out of the National Park and the most probable answer is that every park needs to have an area to dump the more unpleasant things that society needs that are unacceptable within its boundary.

Newhaven fits the bill. Newhaven was a beautiful little fishing town and port which has suffered greatly in recent years from the selling of the port and the loss of our sandy beach which was the main recreation for generations of Newhaven families and a major tourist attraction.

The planning decisions have been awful and usually the cheapest option; the strangling to death of the town by the ring road, the destruction of all its buildings of quality including the fishermen’s cottages around Lower Place, the only building escaping being the Boy’s School, now the Hillcrest Centre, saved by the initiative of the local people. Now we learn that the Heights, the lungs of the town, are to have seven hundred units built over it.

While it is good to highlight the work being done by Sussex Heritage Coast Partnership I cannot believe that there is an authority in the country which would treat this valuable bit of coastal down-land in such a casual way.

Perhaps they could direct some of their resources and expertise into studying and saving this recreational and ecological gem.

Peter Rhodes MBE.

Pevensey Road, Newhaven