East Devon District Council’s Planning Committee today approved plans for the first phase of improvements to car parks on the East Devon Pebblebed Heaths; at Joney’s Cross Car Park (Hawkerland); Four Firs Car Park (Woodbury) and roadside parking at Stowford (Colaton Raleigh) and Frying Pans (Bicton Common).
Planning consent has been granted for works to the four different sites which provide parking for visitors to the Pebblebed Heaths which was recently awarded National Nature Reserve (NNR) status by Natural England. Together the works will improve access for visitors whilst protecting the rare and vulnerable wildlife found on the heaths. The redesigned layout and improved surfacing means visitors will be able to drive and park more safely and the heaths will be better protected for the future.
Works are due to start this winter.
Councillor Martin Wrigley, Chair of the South East Devon Habitat Regulation Executive Committee and Teignbridge Executive Member for Communities, Housing and IT, said:
“The improvements to the surfacing, layout, drainage and visibility of the existing car parking are much-needed due to increased use from people enjoying the Heath. These changes will help people to park appropriately and so will also protect the internationally important wildlife and heritage sites for the future.”
Kim Strawbridge, Reserves Manager, Pebblebed Heaths Conservation Trust, said:
“We are thrilled to get the go-ahead to start this crucial work. Our team have been looking forward to delivering these improvements since the design work started in 2019. The Pebblebed Heaths are such an iconic part of the East Devon landscape, incredibly important for both wildlife and local people. Most people arrive by car so having entrance points to the nature reserve that are welcoming and do this unique place justice will make it clear to people that they have arrived somewhere special. We are particularly excited about the new information boards which are being designed to include clear maps to help people explore the heaths and the diverse heritage of the area.”
As a Special Area of Conservation (SAC), Special Protection Area (SPA), NNR and Site of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI) covering some 1,400 ha., a public consultation was held between September and November 2019 on a Visitor Management Plan for the Heaths. Residents and visitors were asked to share their views on proposed improvements. The proposals were designed to enhance visitor experiences and at the same time protect wildlife and heritage sites, by:
- Installing sensitively designed 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 access for emergency vehicles to reduce response times.
- Improving car park surfaces and entrances for improved safety.
- Increasing visibility in car parks to reduce theft, criminal incidents and antisocial behaviour.
The report and SEDHREC’s response to the consultation can be viewed: