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Bitchet Common new management proposals and consultation

Discussion in 'Seal' started by Sevenoaks District Council, Sep 10, 2012. Replies: 0 | Views: 2871

  1. Bitchet Common is in the middle of Seal Parish and is currently enjoyed by a great many local people. The Common is owned by Knole Estate and managed by Sevenoaks District Council. Following views expressed by a number of local people a steering group was set up. It was agreed that a consultation process should take place to find out if there are ways in which people's enjoyment of the Common could be enhanced through more active management of the area.

    Please take the time to read the background papers below before you complete the online survey. We hope that with the broad agreement of the local community, the steering group can progress the initiative. There is still considerable further work to be done and, if funding is found, work could begin in 2013.


    Overview from the Steering group
    The following documents are the result of a wide and thorough consultation and very careful consideration of the many various points made to the steering group. We have tried to present this in a simple way to enable everyone who is interested to reply using the on line survey. You should be able to do this having read the four main short documents listed below. There are also two appendices which give you further background information.

    1. Consultation overview
    2. Map
    3. Management suggestions
    4. Wish list pros and cons
    Appendix 1 Ecology and History
    Appendix 2 Walk consultation analysis

    We are very appreciative of the considerable support we have received from so many people for our attempt to find a way forward that will accommodate the many needs of those people who enjoy the Common at present. In particular we would like to thank Lorna Talbot, Clerk to the Seal Parish Council and David Boorman, who has responsibility for the Sevenoaks Commons at Sevenoaks District Council, for their guidance and encouragement in carrying out the consultation.

    Next steps
    If we have the continued support of the local community (as indicated via the online survey) we will work on the detail of the proposals wherever possible using local expertise and interest. This will necessitate responding to specific points as shown in the survey. We will also start to look at the detail of some of the proposals such as a close look at the best gates and entry points and making the necessary applications for fencing and gates.

    Following that, we will need to find a source of funding for the proposed works. There are several sources of public funding open to us, all of which are competitive, so we will need to build up the case to make these applications.

    Finally, if all the above are successful work will begin and we hope that we can involve a group of keen volunteers to help us all to ensure this continues as a real community project with benefits to everyone. There will be a full assessment of the project after three years before embarking on the following phase.

    So please do ensure you complete the Survey and send us your views by the end of September.

    Click on the following link to go to the Bitchet Common consultation online survey.

    Gary Aldridge, Seal Parish Councillor
    Sheila Reynolds, Bridleways Officer for Sevenoaks Riding Club
    David Hutton, West Kent Reserves Officer for Kent Wildlife Trust
    Ray Froud, Senior Countryside Ranger for Sevenoaks Commons
    Fidelity Weston, Co-ordinator for the Steering Group
     

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