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November 4th, 2019.

Report from the Egrets Way Project:

The community-led Egrets Way Project, which has now been underway since August, 2011 was started by a group of local residents seeking an alternative to cycling between Lewes and Newhaven on the busy C7 road. Our vision was, and remains, a network of safe, shared paths for cyclists and walkers running largely alongside the river and linking to villages,
amenities and other paths in the Lower Ouse Valley.

Throughout the intervening years there have been many challenges to be met, including identifying suitable and acceptable routes, securing planning permissions, obtaining the consent of dozens of landowners for access to their land and, of course, acquiring the necessary funding to pay for the construction of the network.

To date we have managed to meet many of those challenges:

- The Route: In 2011 we commissioned Sustrans to undertake a feasibility study of our proposed riverside route, utilising where practical suitable existing pathways. From the beginning we anticipated that the network would have to be built in a piecemeal fashion as funding became available and landowner consents were obtained.

- Planning Permission: To construct a new path in the countryside requires the approval of the local Planning Authority. Planning permission for the first section to be constructed was granted in 2012. Approval for a bridleway section from Rodmell to Southease Bridge was granted in 2013 and an application for the remainder of the riverside route was approved in 2014. Subsequently there have been changes to the route through Piddinghoe and an extension of the route from Ham Lane running to the Linklater Pavilion in Lewes, both requiring new planning applications. Also, in 2018, a planning application submitted by the Iford Estate, for the purpose of extending the existing Egrets Way route from Spring Barn Farm to the Swanborough Lakes Holiday Lodges and the village of Swanborough, was approved.

- Landowner Consent: The route of the Egrets Way network requires access to the land of several dozen landowners, including private individuals, businesses, local councils, the Environment Agency and Network Rail. Consent has been sought on an individual owner basis as each section of the route was being considered for construction and formal agreements have been secured for us by Sustrans before any work could begin. To date, landowner consent has been forthcoming in all locations.

- Funding: So far we have raised more than £1.5M in order to build 8km of path in four phases. The funds have come from UK government (Department for Transportation), the EU (Rural Development funds), the South Downs National Park Authority, East Sussex County Council, Lewes Town Council, Newhaven Town Council, the Chalk Cliff Trust, the Chapman Charitable Trust, Waitrose Community Matters, the Lewes Fund via the Sussex Community Foundation, the Jo Holden Trust
and private individuals.

We are optimistic that 2019 will prove to be the year when the pace of building the network began to accelerate as there are two new routes currently under construction, Ham Lane to the Linklater Pavilion and Spring Barn Farm to Swanborough, both of which are nearing completion. And, unexpectedly, there is the prospect of a 1.5km bridleway running through the Iford Estate from Rise Farm to the village of Iford. If all goes to plan, this route will eventually be available for use by walkers, cyclists, mobility vehicle users, and equestrians.

In addition, we have just been notified that a funding application submitted in conjunction with the South Downs National Park to Lewes District Council (Community Infrastructure Levy) in order to enable us to construct the route from Newhaven to Piddinghoe (phase 5) has been be successful. This, together with funds we are hoping to secure from another source in the near future, would enable us to start working toward getting this done in 2020.

While there is still much to be done, these recent developments have given us confidence that our aim to complete the network in the next few years can be realised. So please bear with us and continue your support of the Egrets Way Project.

Once again, it has to be stated that none of this could have been achieved without the consistent support which the Egrets Way Project has received from local communities, landowners, councillors, Sustrans, and our key partner, the South Down National Park, as well as the many organisations and individuals who have provided both encouragement and financial support.

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