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Save Wincheap Water Meadows

Below is a summary of the current situation 12th June 2020:

  1. Pending Council decision 

The Council was due to make a final decision about the expansion of the Wincheap Park & Ride onto the water meadows later this year.  However, due to the current Coronavirus pandemic, it is unclear whether this decision will take place as scheduled.  Three factors that will affect this decision are:

i) Finances:

In the short term, the sharp fall in the Council’s income as a result of the Covid-19 crisis has meant that the Council has had to postpone expenditure on a range of large capital projects by at least a year, including the proposed expansion of the Wincheap Park & Ride. Over the longer term, the serious shortage of funds will also mean that the Council will have to weigh up the pros and cons of proceeding with the Park & Ride expansion against the need to provide services for which it has a legal obligation.

ii) Changing transport patterns:

There are expected to be considerable shifts in transport patterns as a result of the Covid-19 pandemic.  The Council will consequently need to assess whether further expansion of Park & Ride is the appropriate policy response to tackling the issues that emerge from these shifts.

iii) The construction of the A2 off-slip:

The need to expand the Park & Ride at Wincheap was originally precipitated by the decision to build the 4th off-slip from the A2.  The safety of the proposed design of the off-slip is currently under consideration by Highways England.  As the off-slip will be funded by the developer of the Thanington Park housing estate once a given number of houses has been sold, it remains to be seen whether it will be affected by the long-term repercussions of the Covid-19 crisis or not.

  1. Legal action

In December 2019, the countryside charity, CPRE Kent, initiated a Judicial Review of the Council’s planning decision to extend the Park & Ride onto the water meadow and adjacent wet woodland.  The Save Wincheap Water Meadows campaign has been actively supporting the JR and we have raised over £10,500 help cover the costs.  The legal process is currently on hold while Highways England reconsiders the safety of the proposed new off-slip for the A2.  This ’stay’ in the legal proceedings will expire later this month.  If, and when, the legal proceedings recommence, we will initiate our third fundraising drive.

  1. Management of the water meadow

The recent environmentally-insensitive mowing of Wincheap Water Meadow is an illustration of the fact that the meadow’s potential value for wildlife has been neglected by the Council for many years in spite of the fact that it forms part of the Great Stour Local Wildlife Site.  We are urging the Council to manage it in a more wildlife-friendly way, and we are promoting the Canterbury Society’s petition calling on the Council to develop a Pollinator Action Plan.  From recent Council announcements, it looks as if we are making progress on both of these fronts, so please sign and share the pollinator petition if you haven’t already done so.  See link and flyer below…

Pollinator Action Plan Petition

  1. Our long-term goal

Our long-term goal is to ensure that Wincheap water meadow and wet woodland are incorporated into the adjacent Local Nature Reserve, and managed for the benefit of wildlife and flood prevention.  We very much appreciate your help in working towards this goal.