Visitors to the Ashdown Forest in Sussex will now be charged for parking at locations around the Sussex beauty spot, after charges of up to £5 were confirmed after conservators rejected the views of more than half of people who took part in the consultation about charging visitors to park at the beauty spot. Parking was previously free across the entire forest.
Here motoring journalist and expert Pete Barden looks at how much visitors who arrive by car will be charged.
Visitors to Ashdown Forest will soon be charged for parking at areas including Gill's Lap, pictured (Credit: Poliphilo/Wikipedia)
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Who is behind the car park charges on Ashdown Forest?
The proposals to change the previously free parking model on the Sussex to a paid version came from The Conservators of Ashdown Forest.
The charges for parking started on Monday 21 November 2022, so all visitors to the forest will now need to pay if they are stopping for more than 15 minutes - this is the grace period before penalties can be be applied.
Despite huge opposition to the move, Ashdown Forest Chief Executive James Adler said: "Introducing parking charges was a difficult decision.
"We hope that people will understand that without this income we cannot protect this unique landscape now or for the future.
"We want our visitors to enjoy everything the Forest has to offer and, by making their parking payment, they will make a really valuable contribution to maintaining this beautiful place".
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Many people head for the Ashdown Forest to walk off their Christmas lunches, but they'll losing extra pounds this year, with parking charges being applied on both Christmas Day and Boxing Day.
A spokesperson for the Ashdown Conservators told us: "Parking payments are required every day of the year, including the holidays. Indeed, holidays are amongst our busiest days."
The new parking charges are as follows (tbc).
|Up to 1 hour||£2|
|Up to 2 hours||£2.50|
|Up to 4 hours||£4|
|Annual pass||£80 (Covers two cars from same household)|
|6-month winter pass (October to March)||£33 (As above. Full 6-month pass £50.)|
If you are on benefits, such as Universal Credit, you can buy a discounted annual pass for just £5.00
There will be cheaper parking available for those claiming Universal Credit, Pension Credit or any of the
‘legacy benefits’ including:
• Child Tax Credit
• Housing Benefit
• Income Support
• income-based Jobseeker’s Allowance (JSA)
• income-related Employment and Support Allowance (ESA)
• Working Tax Credit
Anyone who is receiving these benefits will be able to buy a full day ticket for £1 and an annual pass for £5. Concessionary annual passes will cover one vehicle only. Concessionary ticket or annual passes will be available on Horizon’s parking portal.
Blue badge holders will be able to park for free in all the car parks.
The scheme will cover 44 Ashdown Forest car parks. A map of these is as follows:
Will I need to get a new ticket if I move between car parks?
No, an update in April confirmed a single valid ticket can be used to park on any of the car parks included in the payment scheme.
Will I need to buy a ticket to stop to buy an ice cream or stretch my legs?
No - there will be a 15-minute grace period before visitors will need to buy a ticket.
Will the Pooh Bridge car park be included in the scheme?
In the latest update, it has been confirmed that Pooh Car Park will remain outside the charging scheme because it is owned by ESCC.
Are the Millbrook car parks on the A22 included in the payment scheme?
The council has revealed that the the two Millbrook car parks will be reduced in size and included in the charging scheme.
However, with many HGV drivers using the car parks for mandatory breaks, some have raised safety concerns
that such drivers could be pushed on to less suitable sites.
In another blow for visitors and commercial drivers, ESCC has also decided to close the Vachery layby.
Physical ticket machines will only be sited at the Forest Centre car park, with various payment options available for forest visitors in the 43 other locations across the forest.
Options for paying the parking charge include:
- Purchase annual (or winter) passes through parking company’s website
parking portal (details will be provided on car park signs).
2. Call the parking company to buy hourly or daily tickets through the Pay by
3. Use any one of five car parking apps to pay for a ticket.
4. Visit the Forest Centre during working hours to pay by cash.
5. Use one of the two machines at the Forest Centre to pay by credit or debit card.
The car parks will be patrolled by the operatives from the Horizon Parking, with fines of up to £70 being issued for those without a valid ticket or exemption.
Could parking charges result in damage to verges and dangerous parking on forest roads?
The report mentions both of these as possibilities – meaning officials targeting drivers who park on tracks or verges – and concerns that yellow lines would need to painted on roads across an area of natural beauty.
Where can I read the original proposal?
You can read the initial parking proposal here and we will update this articles with future developments.
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Author: Pete Barden:
Pete Barden is a qualified journalist who has written and produced for publications including The Sun (thesun.co.uk), New Statesman Media Group, Whatcar? (Whatcar.com) Stuff Magazine (Stuff.tv), Fastcar Magazine (Fastcar.co.uk), Maxim Magazine and UK broadcast stations within the Heart network (Formerly GCAP). Pete specialises in motoring and travel content, along with news and production roles. You can find out more about Pete Barden on LinkedIn.