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The Network of International Women for Brighton & Hove Feedback

‘The Future of the Downland’ for the City of Brighton & Hove

Feedback from our consultation (February/March 2021) with women resident in the City and who are from Syria, Sudan, Argentina, Jordan, Yemen, and Iran, as well some who were born in the UK.

We introduced the aim of the consultation exercise, emphasising this is a ‘once in a lifetime opportunity ‘to protect the Downland for the next 100 years – for us and the next generation. We showed photos of key areas which are accessible and talked about those. Those were: Ditchling Beacon, Castle Hill Nature Reserve, Sheepcote Valley, Stanmer Park, Foredown Tower, Chattri Memorial and Devils Dyke. Coming from that conversation we (The Network) committed to

  • provide information confirming bus routes/times and access arrangements
  • conside providing maps of the Downs and some teaching about how to read and understand them
  • explore having a Network allotment or linking with existing provision (e.g.Plot 22; Stanmer Organics and related projects )

We asked:

Q. What is it that you value about the green spaces in the City and the Downlands?

Q. How would you like to see those green spaces protected for the future?

The answers were:

  • A genuine appreciation and value placed on the lovely land around us and in some cases (e.g. Hangleton) its close proximity to where people live. Want to be able to enjoy it more – awareness of how special it is. ‘It is Treasure’.
  • Recognise the inter-relationship between what goes in the Green spaces within the City /urban area and the open spaces and chalk Downland and suggestions below come from that appreciation.
  • Make connections within the City, with the Downland and their habitats by recreating them as smaller versions in vacant areas , on verges and by having ‘meadow’ like spaces within the City which are signed or coded and which explain the benefits to the environment and the link to the Downland. Information to also be in most commonly spoken languages (identified below ). Could these spaces form a ‘trail’ for us to connect with the Downs but also for insects and pollinators too ?
  • Could we have local , city centre, lit up photo displays which highlight the places that could be visited and are most easily accessible? Could those, literature and websites, have information in most commonly spoken languages in the City (as well as English )? (Arabic. Polish and some Eastern European languages, Chinese, French and Spanish)
  • Really concerned about litter/bottles /cans /dog poo bags lying around and hung on trees. Spoils the appreciation of nature. Please may there be more signs and general publicity to encourage people to take waste home and to educate about dangers to wildlife of leaving litter around.
  • More investment in being able to access and benefit from, local agriculture, farmland – and their produce. Can we access that local produce? Could we have an urban, community or co-operative farm? Do not understand why we cannot access that produce directly. Some areas would be appropriate for such use than others such as the sheltered areas of Sheepcote Valley.
  • Instead of children learning about nature, wildlife and agriculture/ farming from books, (and not sure how much of that happens in schools anyway) could that be done by taking children out into the open spaces and to local farms? Particularly important for schools where there is little or no playing fields or limited outside space (e.g school in Portland Rd). Taking children out would enable them to learn about how precious the Downland is, its history and ecology, identify what it means to them, to be more protective about it all and to help develop understanding about climate change. So - more education generally needed but not just from books. ‘Our children are the best way to save the future.’ Please can we have trips out for us and our children? Could PTA’s be approached to assist with countryside visits? Could an education programme start with and link with, the idea of the ‘trail’ described above – so that children/parents started from within the City and then with some learning move up and into the Downland ?
  • Could we have more trees? More flowers? But we recognise that really restoration needs to be with the ‘native flora’ and species. Also talked about needing to achieve a balance – and understanding that many areas not appropriate for trees and flowers. Would be good to know more about all of that – the ‘why and how’ the Downland is managed and what the native flora and species are that are specific to chalk grassland. ( Ideas in the earlier points above also highlight this issue).
  • Please can there be more dog free areas! Dogs being able to access so much of open spaces and Downs is completely prohibitive to people from certain cultures being able to do so. Cannot sit and enjoy areas where dogs have been – or be in those areas at all. Could we have ‘dog champions’ – so people who educate others about acceptable /respectful behaviour
  • More consideration and provision for those with mobility needs and/or have disabilities; more frequent benches/stopping places/ toilet provision/ more paths and provision for avoiding slippery areas. Signing to indicate ‘grading’ of difficulty of walk. It is often very muddy under the benches, where they are provided, making it unpleasant to sit and rest.
  • More bridges needed over the A27 to gain access from Brighton to the Downs.
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