The Greensand Trust's move to tackling traffic problems at Rushmere Country Park with ANPR cameras, security staff and a parking charge of £6 if you stay for more than three hours, is launched on Monday.
Back in March we reported here how changes were on the cards following problems with large queues and tailbacks as a result of the Heath and Reach park’s popularity during the pandemic.
The Trust says the changes are an effort to address long queues at the park and help with maintenance costs as the site’s popularity grows. They also point out that it's only the second time in 10 years since the park opened that pricing has changed.
Previously visitors had been charged £3 to park all day. The new charges will be: Up to 20mins (pick up / drop off) free; 20mins-1hr £2; 1-3hrs £4; over 3hrs £6; annual pass (unlimited access) £60.
The Trust said: "Our new parking system and tariffs will be starting from Monday, July 19. The system will change to a new Number Plate Recognition System (ANPR) with payment due before you exit - replacing the current payment on exit at the barrier.
"There will be new tariffs for parking, with tiered pricing according to the length of stay, offering a number of options. Payment will be at the ticket machines outside Rushmere and Stockgrove Visitor Centres or you can download the the Flowbird parking App and pay online before you leave.
"Annual pass holders will continue to use their cards at the barrier as they normally do. We will have plenty of staff and volunteers around to help with this transition.
"As a charity we run the park on a not-for-profit basis with all proceeds going towards the running of the park and we rely on the support our of visitors to be able to provide our services."
The changes prompted hundreds of comments on Rushmere's Facebook within 24 hours of them being announced on Thursday, with opinions seemingly mixed
One person said: "I actually don't mind the price increase as it isn't too bad for a day out. But all that's going to happen is more people will park elsewhere, making it more of a hassle for locals."
Another added: "That’s a ridiculous amount to charge. You will just make people park off road. Completely selfish and greedy"
While another person said: "Disgusting ... In 30 years it's gone from totally free to £2 a day to £2 for forty minutes."
A regular dog walker added: "I know charges all goes towards maintaining and improving but it is a big jump in price and some families just won’t be able to afford it"
Plenty more said the pricing represented good value, especially as the funds were being ploughed back into the site.
One said: "Rushmere is beautiful! If you're regulars you’d get a permit anyway. Very cheap day out for a family, Picnic or bbq, take outside games, kids love doing the trails. Extremely cheap day out."
For more details see https://www.greensandtrust.org/parking-at-rushmere