The Green group of councillors said that it had successfully intervened to halt the sale of land in the downland estate owned by Brighton and Hove City Council.
The Greens were among campaigners calling for the proposed sell-off to be suspended – a move now agreed by officials although the council said that it was only a temporary reprieve.
Land in Poynings and at Plumpton Hill has been earmarked for disposal. The Greens said: “Although most of this land is protected under national and environmental law, sites that had been identified for sale were branded ‘non-core assets’ and so were not subject to the same public scrutiny as other parts of the estate.
“However, as a result of ongoing pressure from the Greens, council officers have now acknowledged that plans for disposal of the land should be brought to a halt.”
Green group convenor Phélim Mac Cafferty said: “As soon as the detail on this was brought to our attention, we intervened and called for the sales to be suspended.
“It is right that as a result of this pressure, proposed sales in areas of the downland estate will be put on hold and hopefully shelved altogether.”
Councillor Mac Cafferty added: “We are glad that the city council is talking to the downland campaigners and sharing information with them about what is going on.
“We are now calling for much tighter scrutiny on any remaining proposals to sell land.
“We call on all councillors to fully examine how we treat our incredibly important downland – the most unique part of our city’s natural heritage.”
The Green group is now seeking to amend the council’s policies over the disposal of land in the area and will propose further protection for sites at the next meeting of the council’s Policy, Resources and Growth Committee.
Councillor Ollie Sykes said: “As councillors we must be prepared to take steps to preserve this vital land, and I welcome the news that current sales will be put on hold. There are lessons to be learned here.
“We will be working with colleagues across the council to increase protection of our estate which not only provides our water but is also unique for its biodiversity, heritage and landscape.”
The council said: “The sales of a very small part of the downland estate, equivalent to 1 per cent, will still take place as previously agreed by the all-party Policy and Resources Committee.
“We were asked by a few councillors to pause the process while we answer some questions but we will be continuing with the sale of the land.”