Work to start on £500,000 improvements to Downs Link

Part of the Downs Link SUS-191009-150426001
Part of the Downs Link SUS-191009-150426001

Work on a £500.000 imrpovement scheme to several sections of the Downs Link is set to start next week.

A new surface is being installed which experts say will give easier all-year access for walkers, cyclists and horse riders.

The work is to start in phases with the first starting on September 16. They are a 1,330m section at Rudgwick; a 2,000m section at Needs Bridge, West Grinstead, and the B2125 at Partridge Green; along with repairs to Henfield Car Park.

A spokesman for West Sussex County Council said: “These sections are currently harder to use in the winter due to water logging.

“Condition assessments and users highlighted the need for improvement. As part of the work, vegetation will be removed from alongside the route to allow in more sunlight which will maximise the life of the surface and will also improve the biodiversity along the path by encouraging the growth of other plants species.”

Work is expected to start on a further two sections in 2020.

The project is being funded with a £558,000 grant from the European Agricultural Fund for Rural Development following a successful bid from the county council.

Council cabinet member for safer communities Deborah Urquhart said: “It is really exciting to hear that work is now starting to improve the Downs Link.

“The new surface will make it much easier for walkers, cyclists and horse-riders to use the route all year long.

“This should increase the number of visitors to nearby towns and villages which will in turn help to boost the local rural economy.”

The council says that sections of the Downs Link will need to be closed for safety reasons. However, they say it is planned to reopen the routes at weekends and week-day evenings where possible.

The Downs Link route follows two disused railway lines and crosses the Surrey Hills, the Low Weald, the South Downs and the Coastal Plain.

Since trains departed in the 1960s the embankments and cuttings have become a green corridor for wildlife and people.