Plans to rewild a Brighton area golf course are approved and will protect a vital section of the South Downs
Ambitious plans to rewild Waterhall Golf Course have been given the go ahead by Brighton and Hove City Council.
The news has been welcomed by the Friends of Waterhall with member Kim Greaves saying: “The project aims to restore swathes of pristine chalk grassland, Europe’s endangered “rainforest in miniature”, and ancient scrub which play host to a myriad of species from basking adders and fluttering iridescent butterflies, to slumbering dormice and magnificent glow worms.
“Friends of Waterhall, with the help of members of Dave Bangs and Phil Belden, of the Brighton Downs Alliance, urged the council to dream even bigger and look into avenues for securing funding for an exciting and innovative farm and visitor centre in place of the former clubhouse, with guarantees of prior community consultation over future use of the site and buildings.
“Importantly, they were also successful in getting the council to look into the feasibility of designating the site as Statutory Access Land protecting the public right to roam across the rolling hills of Waterhall in perpetuity, though were disappointed that immediate designation was stalled at that meeting.”
Naturalist Dave Bangs said: “The lost, thyme scented sheep walks of the South Downs were a landscape of freedom. We need to restore that freedom, just as we need to restore nature.”
Brighton Downs Alliance, a group consisting of local individuals, ecologists and organisations including Sussex Wildlife Trust, CPRE and Butterfly Conservation, formed in 2019, in response to the pressing need to work collectively with BHCC to move forward in its actions on the climate and ecological emergencies, and improving public access to our Downs.
Kim Greaves said: “We would like to thank the councillors on the committee for hearing our voices and raising the bar on expectations in relation to community engagement and protecting our precious downland.
“It is extremely heartening that the ecological restoration project was approved. Much of the vast BHCC estate remains shut off from the public and in ecological decline.”
“With growing recognition of the shared importance of access to nature and action on biodiversity, we hope that if the plans come to fruition they will set the tone for a bright and colourful future for people and wildlife to flourish together across our wonderful landscape.”