Published: 14:21, 21 January 2021
| Updated: 10:56, 23 January 2021
The Bearsted Woodland Trust has proved so popular with visitors - especially during the Covid lockdowns - that the trustees are now seeking to create a new parking area to ease the pressure on the existing Church Lane car park.
The project has been made possible by the donation of a further piece of land from the co-founders of the trust, Richard and Dena Ashness.
Unlike many parks, the Bearsted Woodland Trust has never before had its own parking area, relying on the public car park that also serves Holy Cross Church.
As a result of its popularity, visitors have been parking in the road near The Church Landway, and also along the grass verge on the A20 Ashford Road, close to the entrance there by Gore Cottage, causing some congestion.
The trustees hope that the proposed new car park, which will provide 30 parking spaces on a grass-latticed area and include two disabled spaces, will end the need for any inappropriate parking.
The current entrance to the park, which also serves Gore Cottage, would be widened from 4m to 6m to improve access, with the parking area fenced and hedged to match existing boundaries.
Trustee John Broadhurst said: "The Bearsted Woodland Trust now attracts members and visitors from a wide area."
He said: "Having our own, sympathetically designed, parking area on site will relieve some of the local congestion which we recognise is in part due to our increasing popularity.
"It is wonderful to see how everyone is enjoying the Woodland Trust during Covid. What a luxury on our doorstep!"
The Bearsted Woodland Trust was created in 2004, with a gift of land from the Ashness family, it was later further expanded to the east with a donation from Pauline Moore, followed by a strip of land bridging the River Len and connecting to the A20.
It now covers around 10.5 hectares of woodland and meadow and is open to the public.
Mr Broadhurst said: "Using part of this new parcel of land, we will be able to enhance parking and access to the trust for the enjoyment of everyone. Many thanks to our benefactors."
The trust has submitted a planning application to Maidstone Borough Council.
Bearsted Parish Council has already given its approval.
Application 20/506039 refers.