Sussex Downs Conservation Board and East Hampshire Joint Advisory Committee
- Dr Jake Piper (Department of Planning) Project Manager, OISD:IAU
- Lesley Downing (Department of Planning) Senior Research Associate, OISD:SPU
- Andrew Chadwick (Department of Planning) Senior Research Associate, OISD:IAU
- Jenny Crawford (Department of Planning) Research Associate
- Professor John Glasson (Department of Planning), Research Director, OISD:IAU
- total grant value: £40,000
- time duration: November 2003 to January 2005
|The five principal objectives of the project were:|
to develop an in-depth understanding of the character, dimensions and drivers of the rural and environmental economies of the South Downs;
to understand how and why businesses interact and what value this adds to the rural economy of the South Downs;
to identify those economic sectors likely to contribute to sustainable development;
to develop an understanding of the current rural economy/ integrated land management policy; and
to identify the challenges and opportunities in response to wider economic and environmental factors.
The research had three major strands. Firstly, the review of available published information relevant to this project, at national, regional and local level plus the compilation and analysis of statistical information derived chiefly from Census and other official statistics, and relating to demographic and economic/business information.
Secondly, a questionnaire survey of local businesses and other organisations in the South Downs was conducted, supported by interviews to provide case study information on a selection of local businesses. Thirdly, interviews and a workshop were held with institutional and business stakeholders in the region.
The outputs of the study included the compilation of a database on many social and economic indicators for the area at district and in some cases, at ward level. The project clients requested guidance on measures to improve opportunities for sustainable business within the South Downs - these included actions aimed at business development, employment and training, infrastructure and facilities, community needs and improving sustainability. A tool for assessing sustainability was proposed, and methods for promoting sustainable economic growth in the Downs were put forward.
This work coincided with a period in which the designation of a South Downs National Park and Park Authority were the subjects of a Public Inquiry - the Inspector’s Report is expected at the end of 2005.
The South Downs has 115,000 inhabitants - an unusually high population for a National Park. Whilst average incomes in the Park are high, there is variation from west to east. Important employment sectors within the park area are the public sector (26% of all employees), financial and business services (21% ), and wholesale/retail distribution (14%). Employment has grown rapidly in the decade to 2002 compared with the South East overall, with resultant pressures.
Business within the South Downs economy is based not only on local land and natural resources but also upon the environmental economy and the knowledge economy. The landscape of the Downs depends on downland agriculture (traditionally livestock production, but new ventures include wine production), though less than 5% of all employees work in the farming sector. Tourism and recreation activities are already significant within the area, but are expected to increase with National Park status.
Environmental issues are important in the South Downs: this is an area where agriculture may be strongly affected by future CAP reform and where climate change may have major impacts. The research study explored business linkages within the Park area and means of promoting those linkages. Barriers to development include transport and communications links, lack of affordable housing and appropriate skills, and shortages of services (banking, business linkages, shared office space, etc.).
Report to client: Rural Economy of the South Downs
Dr. Jake Piper
tel: +44 (0) 1865 483 422