The East Grinstead Neighbourhood Plan is out for comment, and whilst in policy EG14 we are pleased to see that East Court will be protected from development, we are uneasy that the estate could become encircled if housing were at some time allowed on the eastern border. Such loss of connectivity with the wider countryside would isolate the flora and fauna, inevitably leading to a decline in biodiversity.
Accordingly we have made a submission to EG Town Council that, for the avoidance of doubt, EG14 should be reworded to safeguard the vital link with the wider countryside through the grounds of Fairlight House.
At a fairly heated Annual General Meeting on 5th August, the members of East Grinstead War Memorial Ltd re-elected Chris Nunn as the Company Chairman. Over 60 Members gathered in the Theatre at Chequer Mead, with a wide spectrum of opinions voiced as how best to manage the East Court & Ashplats Wood Estate in coming years. Some members are very sceptical about Mid Sussex District Council’s commitment about fulfilling the conditions of their tenancy of this important “green jewel” in the centre of East Grinstead. No consensus was reached at the meeting, but Chris Nunn committed to try and reconcile the views of all Members within the Charity by finding a common way forward. He also assured the members that the pressure would be kept on MSDC to deliver their commitments under the terms of the lease.
Full list of elected officers following the AGM is:
Chairman Christopher Nunn
Vice Chairman Graeme Stagg
Members of the Council of Management
Mid Sussex District Council paves the way for Ashplats Wood improvements
Mid Sussex District Council, in partnership with East Grinstead War Memorial Limited, has announced a series of improvements to the pathways at the popular Ashplats Wood and East Court in East Grinstead that will make it easier for local people to enjoy the beautiful woodland surroundings.
Ashplats Wood and the grounds of East Court is a 40 hectare site managed and maintained by Mid Sussex District Council on behalf of East Grinstead War Memorial Limited and both parties have recently agreed to extend the arrangement for the next 125 years by signing a new lease. This long-term partnership will enable the Council to progress with future improvements that will make Ashplats Wood an even more attractive place for families, dog walkers and nature lovers.
The Council has already started work on a surfaced 2.5 kilometre circular path that will provide an all year round surface for local people. The majority of the path will be laid with crushed stone, in the meadows, strips will be mown to create smooth walkways and in areas of the woodland that can become wet and boggy there will be raised boardwalks and bridges to allow walkers to have access even in wet weather.
“Ashplats Wood in the High Weald Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty is a stunning part of Mid Sussex and is a great place to enjoy a relaxing walk,” said Councillor Norman Webster, Cabinet Member for Planning. “The location is so convenient because it’s right on the edge of town but it’s so quiet that you would never know East Grinstead was so close. This ancient woodland is such a tranquil place to be and provides the perfect escape from the intense pace of day-to-day life.
“Our new pathways will allow visitors to reach previously inaccessible areas and see everything that Ashplats Wood has to offer. From closed woodland to open fields, natural ponds to wildflower meadows, there’s something for everyone to enjoy.”
Research in 2007/8 found that increased recreational use at the nearby Ashdown Forest has the potential to disturb the protected birds, such as the Dartford warbler and European nightjar, which nest on the ground. Natural England has advised the Council that one of the best ways to protect Ashdown Forest from increasing visitor numbers is to provide alternative areas for people to visit.
Working with East Grinstead War Memorial Limited, Mid Sussex District Council has identified Ashplats Wood as an area of Suitable Alternative Natural Greenspace (SANG) to the Ashdown Forest and these improvements will encourage people to visit the wood, helping to protect Ashdown Forest in the longer term. Further improvements are planned for the future and Mid Sussex District Council and East Grinstead War Memorial Limited will consult with the Town Council and other interested groups to agree a rolling 10 year conservation and management plan.
“We are delighted that this new lease for most of the East Court Estate has been successfully concluded,” said Phillip Baker, Chairman of East Grinstead War Memorial Limited. “The arrangement will ensure a significant and steady flow of funds over coming decades that will not only finance scheduled improvements to the major paths in the short term, but will also be available to maintain the Estate well into the 22nd century. The future of East Court and Ashplats Wood as a green open space for the people of East Grinstead is now secured.”
For more information about the planned improvement works at Ashplats Wood contact the Mid Sussex District Council Landscapes team on 01444 477392 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
About 100 people assembled at the East Court War Memorial at 4.40pm this afternoon to remember the tragic death of 108 East Grinstead residents who were killed when a bomb was dropped on the Whitehall Cinema in London Road in 1943.
Wreaths were laid by Philip Baker, the Chairman of East Grinstead War Memorial Ltd (right) and other dignitaries, and the short service included prayers and a period of silence for reflection.
“Phase 2” of the collaborative project between EGWML, MSDC and Ashplats Conservation Group to provide visitors with more information got into gear today. The first of 5 signs has been erected at the Lancaster Drive entrance on sturdy chestnut poles coppiced from the wood.
Not only will they provide a welcome, but it is expected that they will also give the wood more of an identity, enabling visitors to find out more about the wood it if they wish.
East Grinstead War Memorial Ltd has recently bought the freehold of the Northern part of Ashplats Wood between Hilary Close and Pegasus Way.
4th East Grinstead Scout Group were given the land several decades ago, but found themselves unable to manage it properly. The transaction was carried out for a nominal value and EGWML will in the first instance be assessing the land before developing a Management Plan for it.
Early actions are expected to involve renewing the entrance gate at Pegasus Way, addressing the issue of flytipping, and clearing paths from fallen trees.
Ashplats Wood, the Ancient Woodland that borders East Court close to the heart of East Grinstead, is perhaps one of the towns best kept secrets. However, a collaboration between East Grinstead War Memorial Ltd, Ashplats Conservation Group, and Mid Sussex District Council, has been working to remedy this, by installing new Information Boards around the Wood.
On Monday, Town Mayor, Liz Bennett cut a red ribbon on one of the new Boards to mark them as being “open for business”. The central feature of the Boards is a user-friendly map which will help newcomers navigate around the Wood and perhaps explore a bit further than they would otherwise do. Around the map, several storyboards and illustrations inform people what they can look out for when out for a walk and explain some of the history of this Wood which has been actively managed for at least 400 years.
Mayor Bennett said at the ceremony that she was delighted to mark this inauguration in such a way and hoped that both residents of, and visitors to, East Grinstead would take advantage of the information provided and enjoy the wonderful amenity that Ashplats Wood represented.
Schoolchildren helped to plant six trees at east Court to celebrate the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee year. Pupils from Estcots, St Peter’s, Blackwell, Halsford Park, Baldwins Hill and St Mary’s primary schools took part in the ceremony.
Each school planted one tree, with plaques featuring the school’s names attached to each tree.
The event was organised by Ashplats Conservation Group and financed by East Grinstead War Memorial Ltd