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.