125 23/00024 - Kent Country Parks Strategy 2023-28 PDF 320 KB
Ms Isabel Shaw (Head of Country Parks and Partnerships) and Ms Kate Boorman (Head of Country Parks and Partnerships) were in attendance for this item.
Mr Rayner expressed an interest during the item that he utilised regularly the Kayaking Point at Grove Ferry Picnic Site.
1. Mr Hill introduced the item and said the country parks had provided an important lifeline to residents during the pandemic and continued to be busy. He said government funding had been used to restore the damage done during the pandemic and to provide new facilities such as playpark areas and disabled facilities.
2. Mrs Hohler provided some background to the work of the informal Members Working Group and thanked Members who were involved.
3. Ms Shaw responded to the following questions and comments from Members:
(a) Asked about access for mobility impaired visitors, Ms Shaw confirmed that maps were available which included accessible trails and disabled toilets.
(b) Asked about promoting the importance of Kent’s Plan Bee to young people, Ms Shaw said a range of educational activities were being run in the parks including school sessions, informal walks and talks and events during the school holidays and noted the importance of connecting pollinator work with Kent’s Plan Bee.
(c) Asked whether the Council was working with district councils as part of their local development plans to allocate green space for country parks and potentially increase the number of country parks across Kent, Ms Boorman said efforts were made to signpost people through social media to other facilities run by local authorities or other organisations, and where developments were within the proximity of a country park engagement with colleagues took place to connect green space.
(d) Asked about income generation and whether nature-based solutions would be considered, for example carbon dioxide or biodiversity net gain credits, Ms Boorman said income sources were varied and included car parking, wood products, education and learning, events and cafes. Ms Boorman said engagement took place with the Kent Environment Strategy and income generation and potential opportunities were constantly reviewed and explored.
(e) Members expressed their gratitude and support for the work done in relation to country parks and recognised the importance of them in relation to the wellbeing of Kent residents.
RESOLVED to endorse the proposed decision to adopt the Kent Country Parks Strategy 2023-28 and to delegate to the Growth and Communities Director, in consultation the Cabinet Member, any further decisions that may be appropriate to deliver the Strategy as shown at Appendix A.