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Planning for the Future, Building on the present

South Downs Society’s Council has approved a new strategic plan for 2013-16 and an associated action plan for 2013, setting out what we hope to achieve in the current year. A fresh action plan will be produced each autumn.

The strategic plan reflects the Society’s charitable purpose, namely, “The conservation and enhancement for the public benefit of the beauty and amenities of the South Downs in and within the vicinity of the South Downs National Park”. It seeks to build on the success of the Society over the years by focusing on two features which distinguish the Society from all other voluntary and many statutory bodies interested in the South Downs: firstly, the Society is concerned with the whole area of the National Park and its setting; and, secondly, its interest is holistic and is not restricted to particular features, such as landscape protection, nature conservation, access, cultural heritage or economic and social wellbeing: all aspects of the South Downs are of interest to the Society and we are the champion and advocate of the National Park.

Against this background, the strategic plan identifies three themes which will inform our work over the next three years:
• being recognised as the critical or challenging friend of the National Park Authority (NPA);
• developing an informed and distinctive voice; and
• establishing clear rules of engagement with the NPA.

These themes reflect the need for us to work closely and effectively with the NPA, while retaining our right to take our own, independent line on issues which affect the South Downs. This involves us in making sure that our engagement with the NPA, our comments on relevant planning and access issues, our responses to consultations on the National Park Management Plan and our participation in the work of the NPA is professional and well-informed. It also emphasises the need for us to speak with authority for the large and diverse group of people who love the South Downs, some of whom may not yet be engaged in our work, or even aware of our existence.

The first action plan, which is organised on the basis of the three strategic themes, sets out 27 new tasks to be achieved in 2013, in addition to the Society’s regular and continuing programme of walks, talks and events. The action plan, which builds on and does not replace, our existing, well-established programmes, aims to make the Society better known and to attract and retain new members, including younger members and people from a range of backgrounds. Responsibility for achieving the actions has been assigned to individual Council members and officers. At each meeting, Council will review progress against the targets in the action plan and seek to ensure that they are all achieved by the end of the year. The strategic plan and the action plan 2013 are available on the Society’s website. The public, interested organisations and members of the Society are encouraged to read these documents.

SDS Strategic Plan 2013 to 2016 – view document
SDS Action Plan 2013 – view document

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