Payments for parking charges made by visitors to Ashdown Forest over the year have significantly contributed to the ongoing maintenance of the Forest’s infrastructure since the scheme was launched in November 2022, allowing continued safe access of the public to the Forest. Although still in the first year of implementation, the income generated has been used to improve paths and tracks, maintain, or replace gates and bridges, fix potholes in car parks, and restore eroded entrances and exits. Forest managers hope to be able to do more this year.
Payments for parking charges were introduced on the Forest last November after a lengthy public consultation and public meetings. After listening to ideas and concerns from local people and visitors, several concessions were introduced to help ensure low-income families and other specific groups could continue to visit the Forest.
Ash Walmsley, Ashdown Forest Countryside Manager said:
“We would like to thank everyone who has visited the Forest and contributed by paying to park. We receive more than 1.4 million visits a year which all create some impact on the Forest. We believe our visitors understand that their contribution from parking payments in the Forest car parks contribute towards the protection and maintenance of this rare and beautiful landscape and keeps the Forest accessible and safe for all our visitors.”
The parking on Ashdown Forest is managed by national provider Horizon Parking Ltd, members of the British Parking Association Approved Operator Scheme. Its parking attendants visit the 45 car parks across the Forest to support visitors and maintain signage and the parking machines.
Since November 2022 there have been just 93 penalty parking charge notices issued with the vast number of visitors paying to park. However, incidents of vandalism have seen signs defaced and removed since the parking scheme was launched. In recent weeks these incidents have increased in number and severity with signs removed from 18 car parks. These must be replaced at a cost to the Forest, diminishing the revenue from parking and the ability to invest in visitor infrastructure.
“It is a shame that a few people, perhaps just one, seem intent on disrupting the scheme, but the police are aware and together with Horizon we are working on ways to maintain and protect the parking scheme and continue to improve visitor infrastructure across the Forest. Despite these attacks we remain committed to improving the Forest for the benefit of everyone.”
The number of parking passes sold in 2022/23:
- 2028 annual passes
- 372 winter passes
- 235 £5 concessionary annual passes.
Parking payments contribute to many aspects of Forest management including:
- Maintaining 75 miles of paths and rides and their bridges and culverts
- Keeping fire breaks open to help manage wildfires
- Improving access for those with restricted mobility, impaired vision, or other difficulties.
- Responding to emergencies when people get into difficulty on the Forest and need to be supported, located, or receive first aid
- Working with the public and the police to manage dog related incidents including worrying livestock, wildlife, and horse riders
- Responding to frequent fly tipping incidents
- Responding to wild fires on the Forest
- Managing a volunteer work force of 130 people who support the Forest throughout the year
- Providing education to children, working with local schools and other groups
- Maintaining the buildings that make up the Forest Centre – the offices, workshops, shop, picnic site and tables, public toilets, and Education Barn
- Maintaining and replacing our vehicles, and all the tools and equipment needed to manage the Forest.
For more about parking payments visit: https://ashdownforest.org/parking/