Published: 15:11, 19 November 2019
| Updated: 15:11, 19 November 2019
Tovil residents can look forward to enjoying even more public open space after the trustees of the Hayle Park Nature Reserve signed an historic lease with Maidstone Borough Council.
The lease grants the trust the use of 28 acres of land across the former landfill site at the top of Farleigh Hill in Maidstone for the next 50 years.
The area will be added to the 32 acres the trust already owns outright and operates as a nature reserve at Hayle Park.
Trust chairman Paul Wilby said: “Negotiations have been going on for several years and it is great to finally be in a position to gain the site for the trust.
"As the land was previously used for landfill, KCC will continue to monitor the site, but they have been supportive of our ambitions throughout."
Fellow trustee Brian Clark, who had initially worked with KCC to establish a new footpath designation within the site to improve safety along Dean Street, expressed some relief. He said: "This is a great outcome. There has been much speculation about potential development plans at the site."
The land had recently been included in the many plots put forward in the borough council's Call For Sites exercise to be included in the Local Plan Review.
Assigning the lease to the trust will safeguard the land for the next five decades at least.
Once the land has been secured and made safe, it will be opened to the public to enjoy.
The field, which is positioned between the Loose Valley and Medway Valley Landscape of Local Value includes naturally formed ponds and has been untouched for so long that it has already become a haven for wildlife.
The existing Hayle Park Nature Reserve was created in 2013, using Section 106 money from a nearby housing development.
The trust is a joint partnership between Maidstone Borough Council, Tovil Parish Council and the Valley Conservation Society.
The main entrance is via Fieldfare Drive, but it is also accessible from Cave Hill and Hayle Mill Road in Tovil.
There is no car park and the reserve is primarily intended for wildlife and local residents able to walk to the park.
More by this authorAlan Smith