Brighton and Hove City Council has opened up an area of downsland ten times the size of Preston Park to the public.
The land is next to open access land the council created in and around Stanmer Park in 2006, which together now stretch two miles from Stanmer Park west over the A23, and a mile and half from north to south at its widest point.
The land is criss-crossed by five miles of new footpaths and bridleways – although the public does not need to stick to these.
It means walkers on the Sussex Border Path can divert onto a route which keeps them further away from the busy A23.
The landscape includes the Chattri monument to Indian soldiers who died in the Royal Pavilion hospital from First World War injuries.
Other features are ancient burial mounds on top of Tegdown Hill – evidence of long use of the landscape by humans. The names Tegdown Hill and Ewe Bottom echo its history of sheep farming – tegs being young sheep.
Also clearly visible are lynchets – terraces formed by ploughing dating back many centuries.
Works have involved installing a large number of gates and cutting a new path up a steep bank at Braypool.
Other recent council moves to increase access to the Downs have included opening many new permissive paths off the top of Ditchling Road, north of the city. A new cycle and pedestrian track has been built over the Downs between Woodingdean and Falmer. Another is being built alongside Ditchling Road to Stanmer Park.
Chair of the environment committee Cllr Pete West said: “It’s been one of our main intentions to open up more council-owned downland to residents and visitors. Of course these rights involve responsibilities too and that entails respecting the landscape, farmers, their crops and livestock.
“This is precisely what we should be doing with our new UNESCO Biosphere status – that’s about bringing people and nature together and helping to improve people’s health and wellbeing.”
Jeremy Burgess, Eastern Downs Area Manager for the South Downs National Park, said: “It’s great news that Brighton & Hove City Council are dedicating this new Open Access land, providing some good links to some hidden treasures in this part of South Downs National Park. We look forward to working with them to help visitors enjoy and understand the significance of the area, and access it in sustainable ways.”
Details of Open Access land around the city can be found on the council’s website here http://www.brighton-hove.gov.