Harrison's Rocks access road, toilet block and car park improvement works

Posted by Rob Dyer on 05/03/2015
Harrison's Rocks toilet block and car park - getting a new lease of life. Photo: www.southernsandstoneclimbs.co.uk

From 16th-29th of March work will take place at Birchden Wood to resurface the access road into the site and deliver improvements to the toilet block and car park.

Access Road Closure (16th-20th March)
The access road will be closed to vehicles from the 16th to the 20th of March while repairs and patching of the road takes place. The surface dressing will be carried out after the Easter break and a date will be confirmed as soon as possible. Please note that weather conditions can delay work so look out for information signs or keep up to date by checking the Birchden Wood webpage. This work will be funded by the Forestry Commission.
 
Toilet block and car park improvements (16th-29th March)
Work to the toilet block and car park includes building a disabled toilet and access and landscaping the car park to improve traffic flow and drainage. We will aim to keep the car park partially open but visitors will need to comply with restricted access and safety notices. This work is funded by Sport England, as part of the end of lease agreement.
 
Investment
By the end of April over £100,000 will have been invested into the facilities at Birchden Wood with funding from the Forestry Commission and from Sport England as part of their end of lease agreement.
 
Pay and Display
The funding to maintain and manage the toilet block and the lease with Sport England came to an end on the 9th of November 2014. An online discussion was held to look at options to keep the toilet block open which indicated that it was felt acceptable to charge for the use of the car park and campsite in order to sustain the facilities. There has been a fee for camping and collection box for parking fees at Birchden Wood for a number of years, however, more regulated charging is required in order to support the upkeep of the facilities. The Forestry Commission will be installing a pay and display machine in the spring of 2015, charging will not begin until the improvements to the facilities are complete. The Forestry Commission will be offering an annual pass which will offer a saving for regular users.
 
Telephone line installation
The Forestry Commission have secured funding to install a telephone line on poles to the Birchden Wood car park. This will allow the planned pay and display machine to take card payments. An update will be sent out when dates for the installation are confirmed.
 
Community Involvement
In the long term the Forestry Commission remain keen to work with a local community group or organisation to manage and maintain the car park, camp site and toilet block and will continue to explore the potential to achieve this with the Birchden Wood Stakeholder Advisory Group. The Forestry Commission are also working with this group to communicate about the up and coming work.
 
Contact and updates
You are welcome to contact Vicky Tustian if you have any further questions at: victoria.tustian@forestry.gsi.gov.uk or check for updates on the Forestry Commission Birchden Wood webpage.
 
Background Information
The toilet block and car park at Birchden Wood was originally built for the British Mountaineering Council with finance from Sport England for the use of climbers visiting nearby Harrison’s Rocks and other forest users. Sport England took out a lease on the building with the Forestry Commission and funded the management and maintenance of the facilities for a number of years.
 
The funding to maintain and manage the toilet block and the lease with Sport England has come to an end and the toilet block and car park reverted back to the Forestry Commission on the 9th of November 2014.
 
Without funding the facilities were at risk of closure. However local people and climbers raised awareness regarding how important the toilet block was in supporting climbers using Harrison’s Rocks and in keeping the forest clean and tidy for all visitors. An online discussion was held to look at options to keep the toilet block open. Feedback indicated that it was felt acceptable to charge for the use of the car park and campsite in order to sustain the management and maintenance of the facilities.


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