Concern over parking at village tourist spot

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Traffic news

Plans to extend a car park at a village tourist spot have sparked fears among nearby residents that the views from their homes will be spoilt.

The National Trust is planning to use a field near Nymans gardens in Handcross as an overflow car park to help with growing numbers of visitors to Nymans - once the family home of Lord Snowdon.

The gardens are now so popular - with more than 300,000 visitors a year - that officials sometimes have to close the main gates because the car parks are full.

But nearby residents have taken to social media speculating that their views of cows and the countryside are to be replaced with “hundreds of cars.”

But the National Trust says its proposals are at an early stage and that they plan public consultations.Spokeswoman Jenny Henderson said: “We’re currently taking surveys and looking into designs to improve the surface of our overflow field so that we can use it throughout the year.

“We intend to submit a planning application this summer for this change of surface. Our aim is not to increase the number of visitors coming to Nymans but to care for existing visitors - and our neighbours in the area - in the best way we can.

“In its current condition, use of our overflow field is weather dependent. We’d like to improve the drainage and use an effective surface, such as a hoggin-type surface, which won’t become muddy and waterlogged.

She added: “We also plan to introduce log-marked bays as we have found this enables visitors to park in the most space-efficient way.

“We’ll be following the usual planning processes and welcome the chance to hear from our neighbours and local residents. We look forward to contacting local community groups in the next month.

“Nymans is one of the National Trust’s premier gardens with rare and unusual plant collections of national significance. With a changing palette of colours throughout the seasons, the Grade II listed garden is a popular destination with plant enthusiasts and families alike.

“Many of our visitors travel to us by car and with over 300,000 visitors a year, we are challenged to fit in as many cars as we can in our car park, especially at the weekends and during school holidays. We use both the main car park and an overflow field.

“However, this does not always provide us with enough capacity to accommodate all of the vehicles wanting to come in; and to prevent cars from queuing on the road we close the main gate from time to time.

“We are aware that when we close the car park it can, at times, impact Handcross village. We take safety very seriously and we are in regular contact with Sussex Police about this issue. It is their recommendation to close the main gate to prevent cars queuing on the road and causing an obstruction to other road users.”