Protest over Ightham Mote’s plan for new car park on farming land

Protest over Ightham Mote's plan for new car park on farming land
Farming land at Ightham Mote

The conservation organisation wants to relocate the existing car park to double its capacity and replace the visitor reception building and shop.

The historic attraction near Ivy Hatch, which dates from the 14th century, already has parking spaces for 232 vehicles on an entrance drive and in a walled garden.

It wants to increase capacity with 317 spaces on tarmac and gravel, allowing for an overall total of 472 cars – an increase of 240.

The Grade I-listed moated manor house lies within the Metropolitan Green Belt and the Kent Downs Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty.

The parking proposal is one of two formal applications that have been lodged with Tonbridge & Malling Borough Council.

The Trust also says it wants to restore the Walled Garden and North Drive ‘in order to enhance the setting of the mansion and improve the whole site visitor experience’.

It claims the existing parking provision is ‘impractical, constrained, scattered and confusing’.

A statement by DHA Planning on behalf of the Trust cited a case for ‘very special circumstances’ to overcome the ‘obstacle of inappropriate development’.

It said: “The Trust has owned Ightham Mote since 1985 and in that time has made a number of necessary and pragmatic changes that have a direct impact on the setting of this important site.

“Some of these changes have led to harm in planning terms. However, following an extensive period of conservation of the mansion and cottages there is now an opportunity to resolve the issues, and reveal even greater and deeper significance.”

The restoration project has cost £10million and the applicant states that because of ‘growth in the popularity of the site, there is increasing pressure on the existing infrastructure’.

The applicant continues: “Under the National Trust Act, the Trust has a legal duty to both preserve and conserve such historic assets ‘For ever, for everyone’.”

Ightham Mote welcomed more than 178,000 visitors in 2018-19, compared with around 100,000 ten years ago – and the Trust predicts a rise to 225,000 over the next decade.

However, an online petition has been launched by Nick Davey to stop the expansion project, which had been signed by more than 550 people at the time of our going to press.

He said: “To all environmentalists out there, the National Trust are planning to destroy good farming land at Ightham Mote and build a five-acre car park.

“The field is in an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty located in Green Belt land. This cannot be right environmentally, and particularly considering its impact on climate change.

“We should be discouraging cars rather than enticing more cars into an environmentally fragile environment such as Ightham Mote.”

In addition to the loss of countryside, concerns have been raised by local residents about an increase of traffic on Mote Road, the narrow country lane that provides access to the site.

The petition can be found at

Share this article

Recommended articles


Please enter a search term below.

Subscribe To Our Newsletter