Country park revealed

PEBSHAM has become an area synonymous with dirt, pollution and waste.

Thursday, 23rd September 2004, 3:37 pm
Updated Thursday, 7th June 2018, 11:20 pm

The landfill site is without doubt a blot on the landscape and dominates its surroundings.

But things are changing. The oft-mooted idea of a country park for Pebsham will, over the next decade, become a reality.

So what is the vision for the area which, as Bexhill mayor Stuart Earl said, is "a green lung in between Hastings and Bexhill?"

It will mean open spaces for a range of outdoor activities with the park running from Glyne Gap field to the south up to the proposed link road to the north, and from Sidley to St Leonards.

In total, it covers 600 hectares of public and private land, taking in woodland, the Filsham reed beds and farmland.

Making a country park will mean thew area between Hastings and Bexhill is protected from future development.

Nigel Marshall, principal landscape architect for the county council, is the man in charge of the project's development before a manager is appointed in October.

He said: "When the landfill site closes in 2008 the pace of the project will start to accelerate but people will see improvements before then to public access and signage.

"There will also be tree planting on the landfill site, with indigenous species like oak, ash and hawthorn being grown."

A big factor in Pebsham Country Park's development will be the construction of the link road to the north. Despite environmentalists' fears, Mr Marshall argues the road could actually benefit the ecological development of the park.

He said the wetlands which the road currently runs through will be transferred south, creating a new wetland area within the park.

Mr Marshall added: "The creation of the country park could also bring benefits of diversification to farmers who could develop liveries and leisure activities on their land."

European funding of 240,000 has already been secured which will be used on consultation work and to find out how to make the park accessible to all.

A steering group has been created with representatives from Hastings, Rother and East Sussex councils on it. Its chairman is Hastings Council's deputy leader, Jay Kramer, who was pleased to welcome the project's French partners over for a first visit last Thursday and Friday.

The partners, from Lille and Picarde in France, came to look at various nature projects in the county and also met the steering group at the Royal Victoria Hotel in St Leonards.

Cllr Kramer said: "I see this visit as a positive start to working with our French partners and I believe we can learn from each other.

"Hopefully, over the next few years, we can start to change the image of Pebsham and turn it into a place enjoyed by people, rather than a dumping ground for waste."

Cllr Earl added: "I think it is fantastic, as the populations of Hastings and Bexhill rises above 130,000, that both councils and the county council have come together to preserve an area for the general use of the community."