Help Forestry England address the access issues at Park Lane

Forestry England manages Bedgebury National Pinetum and Forest. Park Lane is a section of highway, private road and forest track which transects the forest. The number of cars parking on Park Lane has increased in recent years. This is creating congestion and obstructing access for those who live and work in and around Bedgebury Forest.

Based on current information received from KCC Highways the public highway finishes at point 2 on the map.

We created this discussion with neighbours and residents of Bedgebury to consult on how we achieve a reduction in traffic and irresponsible parking along Park Lane for everyone’s benefit. We’re looking at a range of ways to reduce the vehicles that create an obstruction and nuisance on Park Lane, which are increasingly presenting a safety hazard to themselves and others.We’re taking steps now to try to and secure the best future all concerned. Please scroll down to see the analysis and next steps of this discussion.

Have your say

Before decisions are made about the permanent infrastructure or signage on Park Lane we asked for your views on displaced parking at Park Lane.

  • Parking bays currently at the junction of Taynard Farm private drive
    • If yes to keep, what measures to take to control?
    • If no, are there options to move it elsewhere in the forest?
       
  • Times or days of week that you experience the issues
    • If there’s a pattern to it, to help us understand more about the reasons behind the increase beyond an assumption of a financial benefit from not having to pay to park

Background

  • Forestry England has tolerated unofficial parking in the bays near Tanyard Farm in the past. However we’re seeing evidence of this growing in number and frequency of vehicles, which is having negative impacts on all who use Park Lane.
  • Park Lane is narrow in places (Tanyard to Foresters, new temporary gate to Eggshells); there are adverse cambers and numerous gateways and driveways in continuous use.
  • Attempts to encourage parking elsewhere without enforcement have not proved successful.
  • Highways have been contacted about revising or adding signage and/or road furniture to discourage parking. We're also consulting appropriate councils about the issues and possible solutions.
  • Road Traffic Act 1988 section 22 states that you must not leave your vehicle or trailer in a dangerous position or where it causes any unnecessary obstruction of the road. In addition to this the Highway Code clause 243 states that one does not stop or park opposite or within 10 metres (32 feet) of a junction, except in an authorised parking space. This is currently not being observed in various places along Park Lane.

Bedgebury Forest Park Lane map and background

Analysis of the discussion

The discussion on access issues on Park Lane opened on 22 May and closed on Sunday 7 June. A total of 30 responses were posted which received 37 comments.

In summarising ideas and comments to the challenge of access at Park Lane all responses have been included in the analysis and categorised. Thank you to those that contributed. This discussion was intended to provide ideas from Park Lane residents and neighbours on how to address the current displaced parking issues. Residents of Park Lane, neighbouring roads, and wider local residents in the Hawkhurst, Goudhurst and Cranbrook communities have responded on this consultation. Ideas discussed have been brought in to 3 broad categories, with associated themes or consensus:

  • Access
    • Sustainability e.g. planned housing developments on East side of forest; concerns about sustainable methods of transport; environmental damage of creating a new car park in a second area of forest; splitting visitor entrances impact on verges and wildlife disturbance.
    • Safety  e.g. vehicles blocking emergency access; different users creating hazards including children on roads; impact of current and increased traffic on surrounding roads; Highways Agency support
    • Convenience e.g. closer access points; residents and utilities needs vs visitors perception of simple access; Park Lane easier than using the traffic lights
    • User groups identified and feedback on timings of access being 24/7
  • Barriers
    • Benefits and drawbacks of gates
    • Other measures suggested to take in to account different user groups
      • signage changes
      • gates and access mechanisms for residents
      • fines and/or clamping as a control mechanism
  • Parking bays
    • No consensus reached on Tanyard Farm area
    • General agreement that current capacity and free parking space has already been exceeded and with further housebuilding planned to the East of the forest not going to reduce this demand.

Analysis of those ideas from residents of Park Lane is that there’s a majority opposed to reinstating parking provision in the short term. Lots of measures, including signage, more sophisticated barriers and controls were presented as options to help address the displaced parking.

Those residents of the local community have contributed ideas on extended parking provision including a permit system.  Bedgebury encourages those that choose to drive to use the car park at Lady Oak Lane. This car park has ample space for visitors and contributes to the overall upkeep of recreation facilities in the forest and National Pinetum. However we’re listening to the feedback in developing longer term solutions to access. We also recognise the potential for communities to progress more environmentally sound options to access the forest from the east with their local authorities to create improvements to cycling and walking routes.

Our next steps will be:

  • Consult with wider stakeholders – including
    • Kent County Council Highways;
    • Tunbridge Wells Borough Council;
    • Parish Councils for Hawkhurst, Goudhurst and Cranbrook ;
    • User groups including Bedgebury Forest Cycle Club and TROT
  • Continue to discourage parking that presents an access issue for residents and our neighbours on Park Lane as well as Forestry England vehicles, contractors and emergency services
  • Encourage access to Bedgebury National Pinetum and Forest that is sustainable
  • Keep informing our local community of our plans and consulting relevant groups

Thank you for taking part in this discussion.

30 ideas