More than £3m of new funding to help local communities across Sussex and Hampshire
New off-road routes for walkers and cyclists, new play areas, school improvements and work to enhance a river are among the projects to benefit from a major funding boost from the South Downs National Park Authority.
More than £2.5m will benefit 42 community schemes across Hampshire, West Sussex and East Sussex.
The investment comes from the Community Infrastructure Levy (CIL), which is paid by developers to support new local infrastructure, with the Authority playing an administrative role.
As well as the £2.5m, 37 parish councils across the National Park will be taking a share of just over £550,000 to support grassroot projects in their area.
The CIL funding is the highest amount ever given out by the National Park Authority.
Among the inspiring projects will be those that help connect people to the countryside, including the creation of a new 2.5-mile walking and cycling route linking Stanmer Park in Brighton to Ditchling Beacon and the South Downs Way.
East Sussex will also see improvements to Malling Recreation Ground in Lewes, as well as the creation of a new “wild” play area for children at Seven Sisters Country Park.
In West Sussex, significant funding is going towards extending the Centurion Way from Chichester along the old railway line to link with the South Downs Way at Cocking. There will also be the refurbishment of the village hall at Bury and Midhurst Rother College will benefit from a new canopy on its amphitheatre.
Ecological enhancements will be made to the River Rother to help fish populations.
In Hampshire, a series of projects will benefit from funding, including access improvements at St Catherine’s Hill at Winchester and at Queen Elizabeth Country Park, near Waterlooville, where a dew pond will also be restored into a wildlife-rich haven. Petersfield Rugby Club will benefit from a new renewable energy scheme to reduce running costs, while Petersfield Open Air Swimming Pool will be getting new toilet facilities.
Kelly Porter, Major Projects Lead, who helps to oversee CIL funding in the National Park, said: “As 2023 draws to a close, we’re pleased to announce our highest ever amount of CIL funding to help local communities across the region.
“Having access to green spaces and first-class facilities are vital for the wellbeing of local communities, both inside and outside the National Park. So many of these initiatives will help connect people of all ages with the countryside and it’s wonderful to be able to make that difference.
“This significant CIL funding underlines the value of good planning and shows the benefits that flow from high-quality development in a protected landscape such as the South Downs.”
The South Downs National Park Authority will open the call for projects for the 2023/24 round of Community Infrastructure Levy (CIL) funding on 1 January 2024. The window for submission of Expressions of Interest will be open until 12 April 2024.
CIL funding is designed to be spent on infrastructure to support growth within the National Park. The National Park’s corporate plan priorities over the next three years are Nature Recovery, Climate Action and A National Park for All and the authority welcomes potential bids that support these priorities.
For more information, guidelines and application forms please visit www.southdowns.gov.uk/community-infrastructure-levy/revision-of-spending-cil/applying-for-cil-funds-for-an-infrastructure-project/