Bough Beech Centre

Bough Beech Oast House - Photo by Selwyn DennisBough Beech Oast House - Photo by Selwyn Dennis

Our Bough Beech Visitor Centre and nature reserve, near Ide Hill, is set to be developed as a first-class centre for education, events and Forest School.

What's changing?

This is a different opportunity to build greater connections between people and nature.

We're pleased to announce an exciting new direction for our Centre at Bough Beech, as we make it the dedicated home of our centre for outdoor learning excellence.

The centre will be a flagship site for our education programme, as well as for the development of our adult and family learning opportunities, events and Forest School.

New funding has given us the chance to develop our Forest School programme and give it a much-needed base in West Kent.

The change will take the centre back to its roots as an education centre and will play an integral role in our strategy to engage people and enhance their interest and respect for the natural world. 

Our vision means that we will be unable to offer visitor services at the centre and the visitor centre will close to the public from the 17th December 2017. We recognise that people have enjoyed and have a lot of affection for the centre. This has been a difficult and lengthy decision, which we hope people will appreciate.

Why the change? Bough Beech Centre

The Oast building lacks the potential that our other Visitor Centres have for enhancement and development. The size, state, and nature of the building have an impact on maintenance and improvement and it is difficult to meet requirements for accessibility.

Similarly, opportunities are limited at this site to improve our commercial and catering offer. We strive always to deliver a high-quality visitor experience and the Oast, unfortunately, does not grant us the opportunity to do so.

It has long been our aspiration to develop our educational programme in the area and Bough Beech is an excellent location to do just that.

Dedicating the centre to events and learning is a vital part of our plans for a future with enhanced education and adult learning opportunities, and to connect people of all ages with nature.

 FAQ

1. Are events still going ahead at Bough Beech?

Yes. All events scheduled to take place at Bough Beech will go ahead as planned. The centre will continue to be used as a venue for events.

2. Will the West Kent Local Group carry on as usual?

Yes. There remains excellent support for a thriving local group.

3. Will the nature reserve still be open to the public?

The nature reserve will continue to be accessible on foot to the public using public pathways. Parking at the centre will be limited to events or educational group attendees. There is parking available on the causeway.

4. Will the facilities still be available to the public?

The Oast will no longer operate as a visitor centre. The bird hide will be accessible to members of the public. There will still be access to the site but this will require parking off-site.

5. Will the toilets remain open?

We have heard everyone’s feedback regarding public use of the toilet facilities. We are exploring all options as we would like to be able to provide this facility, but there are difficulties of doing so, such as making provision to open, close and clean them, dispose of waste, maintenance, etc. We will provide an update if and when we resolve some of these issues.

We are looking into the addition of a radar key for the accessible toilet to provide access for disabled visitors.

6. What will happen to all the volunteers?

More volunteering opportunities will be made available to the Visitor Centre volunteers. Reserve team volunteers will continue as usual.

7. Will the bird feeders continue to be filled?

Yes – The bird feeders at the site will continue to be filled.

8. Why is the Visitor Centre being closed?

The key reasons for closing the Visitor Centre are:

  • A lack of potential to develop and enhance the Oast building as with our other Visitor Centres.
  • Limited opportunities to improve our commercial and catering facilities.
  • To act on our long-standing aspirations to develop our educational programme in the area.

 

We have aimed to answer as many queries as possible with our FAQs, but if you do have a question that wasn't covered here, you can email us at questions@kentwildlife.org.uk


We'd like to take this opportunity to thank the volunteers, staff, West Kent Local Group, visitors and all those that have contributed to supporting Bough Beech as a Visitor Centre over the years.

We appreciate that some people will be saddened by this news, but this decision has been taken in the best interest of the long-term future of Bough Beech and Kent Wildlife Trust going forward.