Budget Debate: Lib Dem proposal for native woodland restoration at Willington Street ‘Park and Ride’ site

While Maidstone Lib Dems were unable to overturn Maidstone Conservatives' refusal to provide support for the continuation of Park and Ride services, they retain their support for a fit for purpose 21st Century Park and Ride.

However, at Maidstone Council's budget debate on Wednesday, Cllr Clive English proposed adding £70k to the budget to provide core funding for the rewilding of the now defunct Willington Street P&R car park, should all attempts to continue park and ride fail, in preference to leasing the site at market rent for car parking or redevelopment for yet more housing.

The amendment to the budget was seconded by Lib Dem Planning Committee Spokesperson Cllr Tony Harwood who highlighted the opposition to paving the site when the Park and Ride service was first established in the 'quieter eastern side of Mote Park' .

Supporting the amendment, Cllr Brian Clark once again highlighted Maidstone Council's call for landowners in the Borough to join in with MBC’s tree planting drive, stating afterward, "If the council is really taking this initiative seriously, it should practise what it preaches by planting and rewilding their own land." The amendment was defeated with Conservatives, supported by a handful of Independent and Maidstone Group councillors opposing the pro-environment measure.



Cllr Tony Harwood commented, ”If Park and Ride services cannot be re-established, it would be a tragedy for Mote Park, and for local people and our beleaguered wildlife, if this site is left paved-over for use as a market rate overspill car park, as has been suggested, or worse yet more housing. If this council is serious about restoring lost tree cover and rewilding, this would be a great time to show its commitment".

Cllr Clive English had previously commented, "With the climate emergency as a backdrop, it would show a complete lack of ambition, and add insult to injury, if Mote Park ‘Park and Ride’ closed only to become a car park. If no alternative Park and Ride services can be found, we must consider returning this site back to a native woodland in this historic setting."