Foxearth’s visitor experience is expected to flourish even more – thanks to proposals for a new car park at A Rocha UK’s 11-acre nature reserve.
After an eventful journey, plans have been approved by Braintree District Council for a parking area at the site, which lies on the Suffolk and Essex border. When completed, it will offer space for eight cars, two motorbikes and four pushbikes. Work has begun on finding the best materials for the surface.
The proposal has come about after a long quest for ranger Mark Prina. ‘I’d parked a few times within the gates after starting work at Foxearth in September 2015,’ he recalled, ‘quickly recognising the less than ideal verge parking option.
‘After a period of wet weather in the October, I duly drove through the gates and immediately got stuck fast – horribly stuck! Fortunately a neighbour brought round his four by four to haul out my hapless Honda.’
After musing on this problem, Mark started out on his pilgrimage for parking. The idea first appeared in his notes in November 2015. He looked at other nature reserves’ car park surfaces for ideas. It became an asphalt obsession.
‘I’ve actually developed a rather disturbing fascination for “parking solutions”,’ Mark smiled, ‘finding that wherever I go I am noting the ground under my stationary vehicle. I grappled with mapping software, planning application forms, supporting information complete with photographs of canes stuck in the ground and other interesting features.’
People with planning experience provided essential guidance. The initial application was submitted in March 2016. The final decision was made in October.
‘With the support now engendered on the planning committee and recognition of the value of our vision for the reserve now admitted, I’m very hopeful for favourable planning decisions in the future,’ said Mark. (Photo: Foxearth volunteer Richard Sands digs out a dried-up pond on the site)