Changes to our Car Parks

Changes to our car parks

Kevin Duvall

Putting wildlife first

During lockdown, we unfortunately had a sharp rise in anti-social behaviour across our sites and an increase in disturbance to wildlife with only half our normal warden team available to deal with these issues. Our warden and conservation staff worked on a seven-day rota to ensure that our reserves were protected every day. 

While many valuable efforts were made in response to the effects of the pandemic, we are still facing significant challenges in reaching a new normal. The fragility of our income streams has led us to look for alternative, more sustainable ways to fund the conservation work that we undertake. 

One of the several changes we are making is to introduce paid parking to our flagship nature reserves. This will provide us with much needed additional income to invest in our sites and security to tackle antisocial behaviour. The automatic number plate recognition (ANPR) infrastructure is expected to be operating at some sites soon and is being funded by part of a Heritage Emergency Fund grant from the National Lottery Heritage Fund.

Our car parks have long provided free access to nature to the wider public as well as members and we feel it reasonable to now ask for support to help maintain these incredible and important sites. 

The charges will come into effect on Monday 1st March 2021.

Your questions on paid parking

When will this update happen?

While we are aiming for the car parks to be updated with the pay for parking infrastructure by 22 February, payment won't be enforced until 1 March.  

Which Kent Wildlife Trust sites will have paid parking?

Our flagship reserves and those with established car parks will be the first to move to paid parking. 

These are: Sevenoaks Wildlife Reserve, Marden Meadows, East Blean Woods, West Blean (Thornden) Woods, Oare Marshes, Queendown Warren, and Cromers Wood

How much will the car parking charges be?

Prices will be between £2-£2.50 per day during the week and £3-£3.50 per day at weekends. Take a look below:

Site Name Weekdays Weekends
Sevenoaks Wildlife Reserve £2.50 £3.50
West Blean £2.00 £2.50
East Blean £2.50 £2.50
Queendown £2.00 £2.00
Marden Meadows £2.50 £2.50
Oare Marshes £2.50 £3.50
Cromers Wood £2.00 £2.00

How can I pay by phone in locations with limited or no signal?

We are working on the problem with the phone signal and hope to have this remedied soon, however, payment can be made either before, after or during the visit - payment must be made before 23:59 on the day you visited the site. We are also looking at alternative methods of payment.

I don't have a smartphone, how can I pay?

You can pay online or pay by phone. Payment can be made before, during or after the visit as long as it is made by 23:59 on the day you visited the reserve.

To pay by phone call the number on the sign: 0203 046 0175 and have the location number ready.

Will the Trust make money out of the penalty charge notices?

No. This is a joint venture between us and Euro Car Parks (ECP) which will see the Trust receive 100% of the parking income while ECP will receive 100% of any penalty charges.  

What will paid parking income be used for?

Income from paid parking will support the conservation activities of the Trust and support the management of each individual site. 

Will disabled badge holders be able to park for free?

Disabled parking will be subject to the same charges as other users.

Will Kent Wildlife Trust members receive free parking?

Unfortunately, we are not able to offer this at this stage. The HMRC considers car parking a VATable member benefit; this means that if a member uses a car park free of charge at a nature reserve owned by the charity, we lose Gift Aid on the entire membership income and pay VAT on each individual visit. However, a number of conservation charities are lobbying for a change of rules or a bespoke arrangement with HMRC to cover this (as the National Trust has).