In a landmark moment for Sussex, Lewes district is to receive £719,100 in funding from the UK Community Renewal Fund, bringing the total amount of funding for the county secured by business-lead consortium Sussex Modern to over one million pounds. The project will be delivered in Lewes district with a focus on growing quality and sustainable tourism infrastructure around Newhaven and Gatwick as visitor gateways into Sussex and Global Britain.
The successful bid, put together by Sussex Modern in partnership with South Downs National Park Authority, Plumpton College and Lewes District Council will deliver a high-impact boost to Sussex’s visitor economy centred around the core themes of sustainable transport, wine, and cultural tourism. The project will use Lewes district as a pilot to develop evidence for how the entire Sussex region could compete with the likes of Napa Valley, California or Margaret River, Australia, as a world-class wine destination. A pan-Sussex steering group will ensure the research and evidence developed during this pilot is applicable across the wine area of Sussex with a view to making a multi-million-pound UK Shared Prosperity Fund bid in 2022.
While Sussex is fast becoming the centre of England’s thriving wine scene, it is also home to an abundance of cultural attractions. Sussex Modern links 39 memorable destinations and experiences across Sussex and is the essential cultural directory of art, landscape, and wine for the region. The collective boasts a wealth of contemporary cultural partners who are proud to be a part of the initiative, from De La Warr Pavilion, Glyndebourne and Towner Eastbourne, the Art Fund Museum of the Year 2020 in arts to Tillingham, Ashling Park and Rathfinny in wines, many set amongst the breathtaking landscapes of the South Downs National Park. South Downs National Park is the official Sussex Modern landscape partner, opening the door to destinations including Firle Beacon, Cissbury Ring, Devils Dyke and Pevensey Bay.
Building on the success of their ‘Join the Dots’ campaign, the team behind Sussex Modern have been developing the leadership around wine tourism in the county. Through the facilitation of advantageous business partnerships, creating initiatives and securing significant funding, they have set a global ambition Sussex tourism.
Nathaniel Hepburn, Interim Chair of Sussex Modern and Chief Executive of Charleston, said:
“With this funding and investment into key areas, local communities will benefit from quality tourism which will be a huge lift for Sussex’s post-pandemic recovery. This a momentous juncture for Sussex tourism and we’ve been working extremely hard to build this evidence-based bid. We hope that this win will lay the groundwork for future significant funding.”
This latest funding for the county builds on three other significant grants and projects which Sussex Modern has delivered in partnership with local authorities and Destination Marketing Organisations in the region, including the Re-Building Confidence and Demand in the Visitor Economy and Revi-VE grants, funded by South East Local Enterprise Partnership (SELEP) in partnership with Visit 1066 Country, Visit Eastbourne, East Sussex County Council, Visit Kent, Visit Essex and Southend On Sea, and Gourmet Garden Trails funded by Visit England and SELEP, delivered on behalf of East Sussex County Council and in partnership with Visit 1066 Country and Visit Eastbourne.
Councillor Zoe Nicholson, Leader of Lewes District Council said:
“The Lewes district has a cultural significance that needs promoting far more broadly than has been achieved to date. This funding can unlock that potential, creating a host of new opportunities for sustainable travel, business growth, employment, and training. My hope is that the award will put a new era of net zero-tourism in reach, and I greatly look forward to working with our partners to achieve that.”
Andrew Griffith MP, Chair of the All-Party Parliamentary Group for Great British Wine said:
“Sussex has one of the largest collections of vineyards in the UK that produce some of the finest wines in the country, from Stopham to Wiston in my constituency of Arundle & South Downs right across to Oxney and Tillingham in Rye. These businesses have a central role to play in delivering on Global Britain’s international ambition, and this funding will help to develop an evidence base to ensure that the expansion in tourism is supported by net-zero and sustainable transport.”
Kat Beer, Sustainable Tourism Lead for the National Park said:
“This funding announcement is very exciting and dovetails with the National Park’s wider goals of providing outstanding experiences for communities and visitors, supported by high-quality access and sustainable transport networks. We want to establish the South Downs as an exemplar in sustainable tourism and this funding brings us one step closer to that goal. Our amazing visitor destinations and hospitality venues are part of what makes the South Downs National Park so special and it’s great to see this boost after such a difficult year for the tourism industry.”
Dr David Stokes of Plumpton College said:
“This funding is hugely exciting and presents a terrific opportunity to develop sustainable transport, wine, and cultural tourism in Sussex. We look forward to working with South Downs National Park Authority, Sussex Modern, and organisations across the region to develop the business case for expansion, build an investment plan, and connect with
Plumpton’s alumni around the world to create an evidence piece for future investment.”
By developing highly visible bookable art and wine itineraries, supporting business development within local hospitality sectors and rolling out sustainable transport pilots, the Community Renewal Fund will build on existing investment and undoubtedly put Sussex on the global map for tourism.