To find out more about the implementation of paid parking on Ashdown Forest, including the purpose of the scheme and initial data, please read below or click the link to download a PDF version.
Paid Parking on Ashdown Forest
Following a public consultation and meetings with local communities the Board of Conservators made the decision to introduce the paid parking scheme in January 2022. The scheme was launched on 21st November 2022. After listening to concerns from local people and visitors, a £5 annual concessionary pass was introduced so that low-income families and other groups receiving government benefits could afford the parking fees and to continue to visit the Forest.
Payments for parking have made a significant contribution to the ongoing maintenance of the Forest’s infrastructure allowing continued safe access of the public. Income generated has been used to improve paths and tracks, maintain or replace gates and bridges, fix potholes in car parks, and restore eroded car park entrances and exits. Forest managers hope to be able to do more this year and next.
Ashdown Forest thanks everyone who has visited the Forest and contributed by paying to park. The Forest receives more than 1.4 million visits a year, all of which create some impact on the Forest which must be responded to. We believe that visitors understand that parking payments contribute towards the protection and maintenance of this rare and beautiful landscape and keep the Forest accessible and safe for visitors.
The parking operation is managed by Horizon Parking Ltd. Its parking attendants visit the 45 car parks across the Forest to support visitors and ensure users are paying to park.
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
- Undertaking tree safety assessments and works
- 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.
A full evaluation of the scheme will be prepared once a calendar year of operation has been completed. Performance is in line with the intention to fill the funding gap. Parking passes were an important part of the scheme and 2028 annual passes, 372 winter passes and 235 £5 concessionary annual passes have been sold during the 2022/23 year.Most visitors to the Forest have been paying to park, and just 93 parking charge notices have been issued. However, incidents of vandalism have seen some signs defaced and removed since the parking scheme was launched. Signs are cleaned or replace but at a cost, diminishing the revenue from parking and our ability to invest in visitor infrastructure including the car park.
Thanks to the swift action of one of our visitors the police arrested a suspect who admitted to damaging parking signs and is currently on bail awaiting further police action.
We are working on ways to maintain and protect the parking scheme and we remain committed to improving the Forest for the benefit of everyone.