The South Downs is unique in having the largest market towns of any UK National Park – Lewes, Petersfield and Midhurst. The character and appearance of these and many other settlements throughout the National Park is mainly due to the use of distinctive local building materials. Picturesque villages like Selborne, Charlton and Alfriston blend into their landscapes.
Many of these settlements contain strong and vibrant communities with much invested in the future of where they live, and a sense of identity with their local area, its culture and history. Across the National Park there are also communities of people who come together through common interests, for example, farming, conservation and recreation. These communities dedicate time and resources to enhancing community life, conserving what is important to them and planning for future generations.
The market towns and the larger villages provide a vital service to the surrounding rural communities, through community services such as banking, post offices, secondary schools and shopping facilities, and access to the public transport network operating throughout the National Park.