Wealden District Council
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Ashdown Forest Special Protection Area (SPA) Visitor Survey

Status: Closed

In partnership with Mid Sussex, Lewes, Tandridge and Sevenoaks District Councils and Tunbridge Wells Borough Council we have appointed Footprint Ecology to undertake visitor surveys on Ashdown Forest to ask visitors to the forest their reasons for visiting, where they have travelled from and how they have travelled to visit, what they plan to do during their visit and whether they have visited any other sites.

The partnership of local authorities has taken a coordinated strategic approach to collect developer contributions to deliver access management and monitoring measures at Ashdown Forest and this includes a visitor survey every five years to understand visitor use. The survey information will be used to ensure that the approach to access management is suitable and effective.

Face-to-face interviews will be conducted with a random selection of visitors, by selecting the next person they see after completing the previous interview, with only one person interviewed per group. Surveyors will also undertake counts of visitors and all survey work will be carried out within standard two hour periods, standardised across survey points. No unaccompanied minors will be approached or interviewed (but would be recorded in tallies)

The work will update and provide direct comparisons to the Ashdown Forest Visitor Survey (2016) and will take account of changes since that time, including the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic and the creation of the Suitable Alternative Natural Greenspaces (SANGs) within each local authority area.

For key findings and changes made see results below:

Topics covered by this consultation:

Leisure, Culture, Communication & Engagement, Planning, Environment & Sustainability

Consultation Start Date: 12/07/2021

Consultation End Date: 22/08/2021

Results expected by: 22/10/2021

Please note: these dates are subject to change.

Areas covered by this consultation:

Wealden District (All)

Target audience for this consultation:

Wealden Residents, Visitors & Tourists, Service Users

Frequency of this consultation: Every five years

Methods of consultation used:

Face to Face Interview, People Counts, Vehicle Counts

What Happens Next?

Footprint Ecology will use the information collected in the surveys to inform a new Ashdown Forest Visitor Survey Report and to draw out trends/comparisons with the previous Ashdown Forest Visitor Survey (2016). This report will help to inform the new Local Plan and the approach to managing and mitigating visitor impacts at the Ashdown Forest SPA. It will also help to inform the ongoing Strategic Access Management and Monitoring Strategy (SAMMS) and associated projects on Ashdown Forest. A draft version of the new Local Plan will be published in spring 2022 for public consultation to give all those who have an interest in the future development of Wealden a chance to have their say on the proposed strategy, policies and allocations.

Contact Details:

Contact Name: Natalie Bumpus

Email: planningpolicy@wealden.gov.uk

Telephone: 01892 602008