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Midhurst Rother College: the lost footpath

The Society has today issued a press release — text below — highlighting its response to a current planning application in Midhurst and the loss of a valued footpath.

Last chance to restore our path

National park “Friends” group, the South Downs Society, has called on the National Park Authority to seize the last chance to reinstate a popular footpath.

When playing fields were laid out for Midhurst Rother College a few years ago the Society led a campaign to save the well used path from Lamberts Lane to Whiphill, leading across the Cowdray estate to Woolbeding and beyond. Although this proved unsuccessful, the Society’s efforts were partially rewarded by the creation of alternative permissive paths which gave some access to open countryside around the town.

But a planning application for new housing on Lamberts Lane to be decided shortly by the National Park Authority opens up the possibility of securing an improved and more direct path to Whiphill. It avoids the busy roads north and south of the college, an opportunity which the South Downs Society is urging the planners to take seriously.

Says the Society’s Policy Officer, Steve Ankers, “We don’t always rush to back proposals for new housing in the national park but in this case we’re talking about a brownfield site near the centre of Midhurst and a real opportunity to improve access to the delights of the national park. We’ve urged the Park Authority to be creative.”

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Patron Event at Woolbeding Garden near Midhurst

604 SDS Patrons Event   31 July 2014On Thursday 31 July the society was pleased to have the opportunity to invite Patrons to an exclusive evening at Woolbeding Garden.

After tea and short addresses by our President Baroness Whittacker and the National Trust’s Petworth House General Manager Rob Jackson we were shown around this extraordinary garden by the head gardener Paul Gallivan.

This 26-acre garden is the creation of Mr Simon Sainsbury and Stewart Grimshaw in conjunction with garden designers Lanning Roper and the Bannermans and, still very much a private garden, is only open to the public two days a week.

If you would like to have the opportunity to join these exclusive events in the future why not consider becoming a Patron of the society?  For details please contact the office on 01798 875073 or email

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Society attends new South Downs Centre event

On Sunday 27 July the society attended a special community open day at the new South Downs Centre in Midhurst.  The event, to celebrate the new facility and mark the start of National Parks Week, was attended by over 500 visitors.

The Society received a very positive response from people we talked to at our stand.  It was an excellent opportunity to talk about our work in protection of the unique landscape and the cultural heritage of the South Downs and we received a number of enquiries about membership and volunteering opportunities.

Some 50 people arrived via organised walks or cycled in from the surrounding area, with the Society leading walks in from Lodsworth, Stedham and Cocking.  The Fernhurst Society organised a walk in from Fernhurst.

A number of other local groups were at the event to talk about their projects, including The South Pond group, Coultershaw Heritage and Beam Pump Trust and Butser Ancient Farm.  Meanwhile young people were kept entertained with giant jigsaws, a mobile planetarium, sash making and face painting.

The Society is pleased to have been able to support the South Downs National Park Authority at this well attended event.