On 12th November 2009 Hilary Benn, Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs signed an order confirming the designation of the South Downs National Park.
The designation process originally started in April 2000. Following a period of public consultation the Countryside Agency - now Natural England – made a National Park designation order in December 2002 showing the area that it believed should be included. A variation order was also made in 2004 to include land around Arundel.
The proposed boundary was considered in detail at the resulting Public Inquiry that ran between 10 November 2003 and 18 March 2005. Following changes to designation legislation in 2006 the inquiry reopened for a further 5 months in 2008, and the Inspector submitted his final report (effectively his second one) to the Minister in November 2008.
Having given due regard to the Inspector’s recommendations on 31st March 2009, the Minister announced his intention to confirm the South Downs National Park Designation Order with modifications. This means that the confirmed National Park boundary is different from that originally proposed by the Countryside Agency in 2002. The new resultant National Park boundary is shown below.
As required by law the Minister undertook further consultations in respect of the 6 areas added to the area originally proposed for designation during November and December 2009. Copies of the confirmed designation order, variation order affecting land near to Arundel and orders revoking the Sussex Downs and East Hampshire Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty were made available for inspection at various locations within the new National Park.
A South Downs National Park authority was established on 1st April 2010 to take forward arrangements for the management of the National Park and deliver its statutory purposes. It is anticipated that the authority will be fully functioning, and will become the planning authority for the National Park on 1st April 2011. Further information on the work of the South Downs National Park authority.