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We have welcomed Kent County Council’s new plan for its country parks* but have warned that the council must take care, in making them financially self-sustaining, not to allow unsuitable commercial activities there.
The consultation on the Kent Country Parks strategy 2017-2021 is open until Monday 11 September. (You can respond here.)
We are pleased that the council has dropped its plans earlier this year of selling its country parks and has instead put together a plan for protecting and managing them.
Kent has developed a new vision for its parks: ‘to provide an inspirational and sustainable countryside experience for Kent’s residents and visitors’. This is a great starting-point for ensuring that the parks are properly protected and managed.
In these times of austerity, we realise that Kent needs to find the money for this. We believe that putting money into parks and open spaces is a vital investment, contributing to the health, happiness, knowledge and well-being of the population.
However, we also note that one of the aims is to ‘ensure the service is as financially self-sustaining as possible’. While we have no objection to charges for car-parking and room hire for instance, we would strongly oppose any commercial events which were out of keeping with the vision, and with people’s quiet enjoyment of the special qualities of the parks.
We shall keep a close eye to ensure this does not happen.
* Kent’s country parks are Brockhill country park, Grove Ferry picnic site, Lullingstone country park, Manor Park country park, Pegwell Bay country park, Shorne Woods, Teston Bridge country park, Trosley country park and White Horse Wood. It also manages five smaller countryside sites: Bluebell Hill, Dry Hill, Parkwood, Preston Hill and The Larches.