Cliff Gardens

The aim:

To turn a neglected and mis-used site into an attractive, biodiverse, community garden. This will be educational and awareness–raising, demonstrating and addressing the effects of climate change on the environment. It will use individual plots to show how plants adapt to their environment, enhance biodiversity by encouraging wildlife. Its use will be as an outdoor classroom and educational site to demonstrate these features to students and the public.
See below for the latest news on real progress

Background summary:

Public involvement and consultation: during the last three years, we have kept the community informed of our actions by:

  • regular articles in Seaford Scene describing our plans and inviting volunteers
  • We have held public meetings where we described the project and invited discussion
  • a door-to-door mailshot of the upcoming planning application announcing a public meeting to describe the plans, put posters on lamp posts and other locations
  • Our activities are described on our website and an extensive Q&A has been posted on the Re-naturing Seaford website where the editor selected questions and we answered them
  • We made a short ZOOM video for Primary Schools describing the project (during COVID…)
  • meetings with stakeholders, STC officers, new councillors, individuals
  • Social media: we have had limited contact and representation on Seaford Residents’ Voice and other Facebook sites. It is here where one particularly vocal individual has continued to object to our activities and spread incorrect information despite in depth conversations with her and a 2-hour one-to-one discussion with her on site
  • Discussion with land owners Seaford Town Council who have supported our project and this planning application

 During this planning period we have had support from:

  • Our funders: the National Lottery Climate Action fund applied to on our behalf by South Downs National Park, Lewes District Council Community Infrastructure Levy and UK Shared Prosperity Fund. We are fully funded bringing new money to the community.
  • The immediate neighbourhood of Cliff Close who initiated this project, partly to prevent the summerlong parking of caravans and travellers on the site with its associated noise and public nuisance
  • Seaford Head School whose students helped us plant the native hedgerow in the adjacent Pump Field. They have also offered to help us with the design of the information boards and QR codes to link to their school syllabuses
  • Seaford Scouts and Seaford Youth Forum
  • Renaturing Seaford/On the Verge groups who have publicized our progress on their websites
  • ESCC Highways confirmed during the planning process that they had no objection to the proposal and have since provided a plan of the suggested signage necessary.
  • STC wrote in as landowner during the planning process confirming their support for the project
  • The South Downs National Park led 10 Partners in securing funding of £2 million from the National Lottery and showed their support for the Cliff Gardens project by including funds for the project. They have also agreed the planting plans for the garden. Consequently, implementation of the Cliff Gardens project is overseen by the South Downs National Park led Project Board.
  • CISTRANS have advised us and supported our improvement of the Avenue Verte cycllng route
  • And the many individuals who wrote in with support for the project

On 11 October 2023 at a Lewes District Council planning meeting, planners stated that having considered the merits of the case and considered letters of support (31) and objection (22), they were minded to approve the Cliff Gardens Project application. After lengthy discussion with public representations and councillors, the project was unanimously approved. In particular they commended us for the educational and biodiversity aims of the project, for carrying through a community initiative and for the careful planning and in-depth advice sought by the team.

Details of the meeting can be watched on:, LW/22/0796 1:26:26 to 1:57:22 (ie 30+mins of details of the project addressing a lot of the inaccuracies put forward on FaceBook entries over the months)

It was stated clearly at the meeting that LDC would be charged with applying to the Secretary of State for a road closure to motorized vehicles (Extinguishment of Vehicular Rights Order).

This has now been done and on Mar 8 2024, notices were put up on site informing the public and giving reference to the Order.


Cliff Gardens: The following was published in the London Gazette on 8 March:
Town and Country Planning



THE SECRETARY OF STATE hereby gives notice of the proposal to make an Order under section 249 of the above Act to authorise the extinguishment of vehicular rights along a length of Cliff Gardens at Seaford in the District of Lewes.

COPIES OF THE DRAFT ORDER AND RELEVANT PLAN may be inspected during normal opening hours at Lewes District Council, 6 High Street, Lewes, BN7 2AD in the 28 days commencing on 08 March 2024 and may be obtained free of charge, from the Secretary of State (quoting reference NATTRAN/SE/S249/5651) at the address stated below.

ANY PERSON MAY OBJECT to the making of the proposed order by stating their reasons in writing to the Secretary of State at National Transport Casework Team, Tyneside House, Skinnerburn Road, Newcastle upon Tyne NE4 7AR, quoting the above reference. Objections should be received by midnight on 05 April 2024. You are advised that your personal data and correspondence will be passed to the applicant/agent to enable your objection to be considered. If you do not wish your personal data to be forwarded, please state your reasons when submitting your objection.

S Zamenzadeh, Casework Manager
(Also announced as above in SussexWorld –…/65eb241b144f8ec2789c17f2)

The casework team will consider both objections and supporting comments in relation to the removal of these rights of way and they are taken into consideration when the Secretary of State issues his decision. (and not as stated on FaceBook that supporters do not need to comment!)

Seaford Community Partnership presented the plans submitted to Lewes District Council and discussed:
WHAT: A climate change and diversity garden for local schools and colleges, and as a tourist attraction for the many visitors to Seaford.
WHY: As a community led project initiated by local residents and to raise awareness of the issues of climate change and what we can do about them.
WHERE: On the rough, pot-holed and unmade-up road between Cliff Gardens and The Esplanade – see picture.
HOW: With Christian Funnell and Gabby Tofts who designed the Plan, the garden will  be created and maintained by volunteers.

And how you can help:
1.  By supporting the application to LDC Planning. Visit LDC Planning, and enter LW/22/0796 as the reference. Add  your comment there. Or you can email the Case Officer James Emery directly: quoting LW/22/0796, your name and address and your reasons for supporting the application.

2. By volunteering to help in the construction, planting and maintainence of the garden.
Contact us – click here.

On a cold December morning this week in Seaford, Pupils from Seaford Head School Eco-Club joined forces with Cliff Gardens project members (part of Seaford Community Partnership) and volunteers from Southern Water/Cappagh Browne Utilities Ltd for a day of very hard work in the Pump Field, the furthest East of the Martello Fields. Over the course of the day they planted up 50m of native hedgerow along the perimeter fence between the field and Southern Water’s Pump Station adjacent to the field.

Seaford Community Partnership is part of the Ouse Valley Climate Action project – promoted by South Downs National Park Authority and part funded by the National Lottery Climate Action Fund. Climate change themes of global warming, rising sea levels and extremes of weather including floods and droughts are extremely important to Seaford with its 41/2 miles of South-west facing shingle beach sometimes battered by surging storms and very high seas. We all know the efforts of the Environment Agency shoring up our beach all winter long. Loss of biodiversity is associated with climate change as plants and animals have to adapt to changing conditions.

And why this unusual mix of people? Cliff Gardens project has been developed from the original idea of a group of residents of Cliff Gardens to turn an ugly, potholed and unmade-up road into a community garden. Weaving together this community aspiration and the aims of the lottery bid, SCP has designed a two-part educational garden: partly a formal garden demonstrating how plants colonise hostile environments and create plant communities and then alongside it, a meadow area in the Pump Field where students can study what grows there, how things change over time, using techniques of observation, measurement, recording and topics central to biology, geography and science syllabuses. The aim of this project is to work to mitigate effects of climate change, with it’s associated loss in biodiversity as habitats change.

And Southern Water’s/Cappagh Browne Utilities Ltd’s involvement in all this? Well, we approached them to ask if they would like to sponsor this environmental project and in return they offered support and hands-on participation from their staff – who all volunteer to help with community projects. And how we valued their expertise and physical hard work. Our original idea of hiding the Pump Station from view developed into a realisation that the activities of Southern Water in distributing water to all homes and then removing all domestic waste water and storm run-off for eventual treatment in their sewage plants – had huge educational implications: how we use water, how sewers get blocked, what happens when we have torrential rain or droughts. Recent events have given them bad publicity but we all need to change some practices to cope with future environmental threats. They have an active education department. And Cappagh Browne Utilities? Well they maintain and repair the sewers and pipe work as contractors for Southern Water and have a thriving Ecology team.  Good reasons to work together here!

Planting this long hedgerow of seven attractive native species is just a start in trying to increase the biodiversity of the Pump Field. It will serve two purposes. Firstly, the plants are all native English species that will provide shelter and food for a whole host of pollinator insects, bees, butterflies, moths, birds and small mammals. In the fullness of time not only will the hedge increase the biodiversity of Pump Field, but also residents will be able to appreciate it as they stroll through the Pump Field and revitalized Cliff Gardens area.

SCP are in the process of applying for planning permission for the garden designed by Christian Funnell & Gabby Tofts who designed the popular Shoal Project nearby. It will have seven large bedding areas, a purpose built meander path for walkers, strollers, mobility scooters and a cycle path the length of the garden (as part of the existing C2 cycleway). As in the Shoal there will be ample opportunity for sponsorship and plaques – to raise awareness of climate change issues and what we can do about it as well as to raise funds. We will then apply for a stopping up order for the road. We are planning public consultation meetings early next year which will be widely publicised, to discuss the plans, to engage and seek support and to look for volunteers to help with the construction of the garden.


What you can do:

We still need to consult widely with the public, schools and stakeholders and our hope is to create a vibrant ‘Friends of Cliff Gardens’ group for long-term maintenance of the garden and its use as an educational facility.

If you would like to be involved in this project, we would love to hear from you. Please contact us  – click here and we’ll get in touch with you.