Sevenoaks Wildlife Reserve to Boast Better Biodiversity and a Refurbished Visitor Centre

Kent Wildlife Trust is planning to extend its current Sevenoaks visitor centre as part of a £2 million revamp and introduce greater conservation measures that will bring better biodiversity with a long-term vision that could see the natural return of otter and beaver in the future.

The Trust has had to rethink previous ambitious plans to rebuild the centre amidst the coronavirus pandemic, rising costs and consideration of increased environmental impact. Plans include an enlarged cafe with a lakeside view, increased parking from 48 to 85 spaces, and improving access for all, with the hope to inspire a love for nature in future generations. 

The Sevenoaks Wildlife Reserve, a former gravel pit turned designated Site of Special Scientific Interest (SSI), attracts over 80,000 visitors a year due to its large biodiversity in wetland species. 

It is home to over 2,000 species including bats, dragonflies, fungi and an array of spectacular birds. However, there is still key wildlife missing. Helping animals and plants return to the site could provide important natural solutions such as storing carbon and encouraging a healthier ecosystem. 

The new plans also include upgrades to the information area and visitor toilets, an improved play area and parking space for up to four coaches. This will enable a better experience for educational school visits.  

Sevenoaks Wildlife Reserve

Sevenoaks Wildlife Reserve

There are also plans to improve the site's carbon footprint by fitting solar panels and an air source heat pump. Old buildings will be removed and replaced by native scrub, benefiting local wildlife, while new perimeter fencing is set to be installed for added security. 

If approved, the Trust will be launching a fundraising appeal to help cover the revamp of the visitor centre.  

Fiona White, Director of Education at Kent Wildlife Trust said:  

“We are very excited about this project and are confident this visitor centre will help people connect with nature at such a crucial time for our environment and our wellbeing. It is an opportunity for the local and wider community to engage with nature and the chance to inspire future generations to learn about the importance of biodiversity and concepts such as Wilding. 

“Our priority is to maintain the wildlife value of this important and cherished site in the heart of Sevenoaks.  The centre will become a place to learn, research, explore, be active, get connected and provide opportunities to give back to the local community through volunteering. This reserve will bring Wilding to life and create space for nature and natural processes to thrive as part of our vision for a Wilder Kent.” 

The new plans, which are currently out for public consultation on the Trust's website, will be submitted to Sevenoaks District Council in March. If approved, work on the site could start next year.