Last November Owl queried the press description that these car parks were being described as “four council-owned car parks”. This description followed from the fact that EDDC itself was listed as the applicant for planning permission for this work.
Owl has subsequently learned that this was because funding for the improvements has been secured through the South East Devon Habitat Regulations Partnership. The formal members of the partnership are: Teignbridge, East Devon District and Exeter City Councils, with Natural England. But the term is also used as an umbrella term to include other organisations such as The Pebblebed Heaths, Clinton Devon Estates, Devon Wildlife and RSPB.
The car parks are part of the Pebblebed Heaths Trust but Owl understands that formal ownership still lies with Clinton Devon Estates.
How the costs fall for this work is unclear.
Two visitor car parks on Pebblebed Heaths are to be closed for up to six weeks for improvement work.
Philippa Davies www.exmouthjournal.co.uk
Four Firs Car Park on Woodbury Common and Joney’s Cross Car Park at Hawkerland will be closed from Monday, February 7.
The work will include new entrance signs and information boards, and better surfacing.
Further works will take place on roadside parking at Stowford (Colaton Raleigh) and Frying Pans (Bicton Common).
The car parks are managed by the Pebblebed Heaths Conservation Trust, and funding for the improvements has been secured through South East Devon Habitat Regulations Partnership. The aim is to protect the rare wildlife on the heath while making access easier for visitors.
Devon county councillor Martin Wrigley, who is also chair of the South East Devon Habitat Regulation Executive Committee, said: “The improvements to the existing car parks are much-needed due to increased use from people enjoying the Heaths.
“The redesigned layout and improved surface means visitors will be able to drive and park more safely and the heaths will be better protected for the future.”
Kim Strawbridge, Reserves Manager, Pebblebed Heaths Conservation Trust, said: “We would like to thank people for their patience while these car parks are closed and we would like to reassure people that all other parking areas across the heaths will remain open during this time.
“We have been looking forward to getting this work underway so that people will be able to benefit from this first round of refurbishment work before the spring.
“The Pebblebed Heaths are such an iconic part of the East Devon landscape, incredibly important for both wildlife and local people. Most people arrive by car so having entrance points to the nature reserve that are welcoming and do this unique place justice will make it clear to people that they have arrived somewhere special.”
The car park improvements are part of a wider plan to manage visitor access to the Heaths and make sure the area’s wildlife and ancient monuments are safeguarded. The plans include measures to make the car parks more visible from the road, to discourage thefts from cars, fly-tipping and anti-social behaviour.