‘No’ to car parking charges and crackdown on crime in blueprint for Woodbury Common

Resisting the introduction of car parking charges, measures to crack down on crime, and improving access are part of a blueprint for the future of Woodbury Common.

The public will be asked for its views on proposals to enhance the beauty spot for visitors and protect wildlife as part of a consultation running from September 23 – November 4.

New information boards and improved car park surfaces and entrances are also part of the plans.

The East Devon Pebblebed Heaths Conservation Trust and the South East Devon Habitat Regulations Executive Committee have published an advisory report.

It sets out proposals for improving visitor experiences on the heaths, while at the same time protecting the important conservation area.

Suggestions in the report include:

  • Improving access for emergency vehicles to reduce response times;
  • New information boards with maps and route markers for suggested trails;
  • Improving car park accessibility and layout while at the same time helping to protect ancient monuments and wildlife;
  • Improving car park surfaces and entrances for improved safety and visibility;
  • Not introducing car parking charges;
  • Increasing visibility in car parks to reduce theft, criminal incidents and antisocial behaviour.

Councillor Susie Bond, chairman of South East Devon Habitat Regulations Executive Committee and deputy leader of East Devon District Council,said: “This advisory report has explored in great detail ways to improve access to the heaths, so more people can enjoy them in the future.

“With a growing population, visitor numbers are likely to increase, so we must balance this with new ways to care for this highly sensitive area.

“I encourage people to review the proposals and provide comments. All views will be taken into account before decisions are made next year.”

Dr Sam Bridgewater, head of wildlife and conservation for Clinton Devon Estates, said: “The heaths are among East Devon’s most-cherished landscapes providing recreational opportunities for those living in the local area.

“The recommendations within this report aim to maintain the much-loved character of the site, protect its habitats and wildlife and make it a safer and more rewarding place to visit.

“We hope those who visit and enjoy the heaths will take up this opportunity to provide feedback on the proposals.”

Residents and visitors can see the proposed changes in more detail at the following events:

  • Four Firs car park: Saturday, September 28, 9am-1pm;
  • Exmouth Town Hall: Thursday, October 10, 2pm-8pm;
  • Joney’s Cross car park: Thursday, October 17, 1pm-5pm.

Proposals and a short survey are available online here.

Comments can be emailed to habitatmitigation@eastdevon.gov.uk, with ‘PBH visitor experience consultation’ in the subject box.

Feedback can also be sent by post to: Kim Strawbridge, Pebblebed Heaths Conservation Trust, Rolle Estate Office, Bicton Arena, East Budleigh, Budleigh Salterton, EX9 7BL.

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