KCC’s award-winning country parks will be increasing their emphasis on educational opportunities in the future under plans proposed in the service’s new five-year strategy.
A total of 11 aims are outlined in the strategy, which will be open to public consultation from 4 October to 12 December.
The strategy’s overall vision is “to provide an inspirational, accessible and sustainable countryside experience for all Kent’s residents and visitors”.
Among the objectives outlined is to “work with nurseries, schools, further education establishments and adults to provide environmental education and events that promote engagement with the natural world alongside supporting future sustainability and responses to the climate emergency.”
The main strategic aims outlined in the consultation are:
· to provide a country park network of well-connected, high-quality and biodiverse green space;
· to sustain and manage visitor numbers by providing a quality customer experience alongside a comprehensive environmental education service, facilities, events and activities that encourage visits especially among under-represented groups; and
· to consolidate the financial sustainability of the parks through maximising self-financing and external funding opportunities.
Other specific aims include:
· Maintain or, where possible, enhance the biodiversity, heritage and landscape values of the sites ensuring that opportunities to connect communities to their value are provided;
· To improve facilities to provide equity of access to quality greenspace to all Kent residents and visitors.
· To provide and increase high quality volunteering opportunities including seeking new ways for communities to volunteer their time to the work of the country parks
To help fund and support the country parks with the service’s ambitious plans, the strategy also includes these initiatives:
· To maximise the opportunities to generate income on the sites through catering, education, events and innovative paid for facilities and services whilst operating at maximum efficiency; and
· To explore, develop and secure external funding opportunities that complement the work of the country parks.
Mike Hill, KCC’s Cabinet Member for Community and Regulatory Services, said: “We are proud of our country parks, eight of which are holders of the Green Flag Awards from the environmental charity Keep Britain Tidy.
“The country parks provided a vital resource for many residents during the pandemic when the emphasis was on giving the public the opportunity to get out and about and exercise in the fresh air.
“The parks are rightly appreciated by Kent residents, but we cannot rest on our laurels and need to enhance the facilities if we can, in order to make them even more accessible and popular. That is why we are launching this consultation on our proposed strategy for the next five years.
“I hope as many residents as possible take part in the consultation and let us know their views on our proposals.”
To view the full strategy and to complete the online questionnaire, visit www.kent.gov.uk/countryparksstrategy
Following the consultation, a report summarising the feedback will be produced. This will be used to help finalise the strategy, which will be presented to the council’s Growth, Economic Development and Communities Cabinet Committee before it is agreed and adopted.
Residents needing any of the documents in an alternative format or language, can email email@example.com or call 03000 42 15 53.