Wealden District Council
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Suitable Alternative Natural Greenspaces (SANGs) Visitor Surveys

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 at four SANGS (Suitable Alternative Natural Greenspaces) which have been created as part of the approach to managing visitor pressures at Ashdown Forest. The SANGS sites include:

  • Reedons Meadows (within Lewes District)
  • Horsted Green (within Wealden District)
  • East Courts & Ashplats Wood (within Mid Sussex District)
  • Walshes Park (within Wealden District)

Surveyors will ask visitors at the SANGS 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, including Ashdown Forest.

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. The SANGs are unlikely to work as ‘holiday’ destinations and there is a risk that local residents may use them less during holiday periods. The SANGs surveys will therefore take place during September, during school term time but at a time of year when good weather and light evenings will mean they are likely to be well used. 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 provide direct comparisons to the visitor surveys undertaken at the Ashdown Forest and also provide information on how well the SANGS are performing in terms of their role in attracting visitors away from Ashdown Forest. They will also take account of the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic on visitor patterns and behaviours.

For key findings and changes made see results below:

Topics covered by this consultation:

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

Consultation Start Date: 05/09/2021

Consultation End Date: 30/09/2021

Results expected by: 30/11/2021

Please note: these dates are subject to change.

Areas covered by this consultation:

Wealden District (All)

Target audience for this consultation:

Wealden Residents, Town and Parish Councils, Service Users

Frequency of this consultation: One-off

Methods of consultation used:

Face to Face Interview, People Counts

What Happens Next?

Footprint Ecology will use the information collected in the surveys to draw out trends/comparisons with the Ashdown Forest Visitor Survey. This report will help to inform the new Local Plan and the approach to managing and mitigating visitor impacts at the SANGS and Ashdown Forest SPA, as well as help inform the future design and management of the existing and any new SANGS. It will also help to inform the ongoing Strategic Access Management and Monitoring Strategy (SAMMS). 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