Nature reserve group interested in Fairlight woodland

Bexhill Town Hall SUS-160804-165750001
Bexhill Town Hall SUS-160804-165750001

A group aiming to establish a nature reserve in the Fairlight area is hoping to take over responsibility for a piece of woodland which the council planned to sell off.

As part of its disposal of assets programme, Rother District Council previously announced its intention to offload Hoads Wood and Mountain Field in Fairlight.

Councillors had agreed to sell the land to an ‘appropriate organisation,’ on the proviso it is continued to be used as an open space.

Council officers have held discussions with the Woodland Trust, Sussex Wildlife Trust and the Environment Agency.

But the local authority has also been approached by the Stonelynk Valley Nature Reserve Project, a local group seeking to establish a nature reserve in this area encompassing several landholdings and connectingHastings Country Park, Fairlight Hall, RSPCA Mallydams, Stonelynk Valley and the council-owned land.

A council report, prepared for Rother’s Cabinet committee, said: “The Stonelynk Valley Nature Reserve Project has engaged a broad range of organisations in support of the proposal, both as direct partners in the Reserve and as supporting organisations providing advice and ancillary services.

“These include the various landowners, RSPCA, Brighton University, High Weald AONB Unit, Woodland Trust, Sussex Wildlife Trust, RSPB, Sussex Coast College, Fairlight Parish Council and a number of voluntary and community organisations.”

It added: “Funding has been sought from a variety of sources to support the project and a development programme has been identified to establish and oversee the nature reserve, including establishing a partnership board of participating organisations to oversee the project.

“A limited not-for-profit company, Stonelynk Valley Ltd, has been established in April 2016.

“Acquisition of the council’s landholding is a key objective for the project to help provide a connecting corridor between Mallydams and Stonelynk Valley.”

The report acknowledged that the projected ‘would appear to offer the best option for a disposal of the land while preserving its present use into the future’.

Council officers are recommending Rother councillors devolve the asset by way of a long lease, which would mean that the council retains its control by maintaining its freehold interest.

A decision will be made by Rother’s Cabinet committee on Monday (September 5).

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