LETTER: Parish council says concerns over safety justified as Wicken Fen receives 72,000 visitors compared to 22,000 as previously claimed

PUBLISHED: 10:45 05 November 2019 | UPDATED: 10:45 05 November 2019

Impression of what the hayrick pavilion will look like at Wicken Fen. Picture; WICKEN

Impression of what the hayrick pavilion will look like at Wicken Fen. Picture; WICKEN

Archant

We note from the planning portal and the article in the Ely Standard that planning permission was granted to the National Trust for the temporary structure of a Hayrick style pavilion ref 19/01297/FUL.

The article in the Ely Standard stated (correctly) that the parish council had concerns about the highway safety due to the current number of visitors and the estimated 10 per cent uplift in visitor numbers this would create.

I would like to bring to your attention the incorrect information that the Officer Report provided stating that 'the National Trust received approximately 20,000 visitors per year walking past the Hayrick site…creating an uplift of 2-3000 visitors'.

At a recent meeting with the National Trust to discuss their plans to extend the café (which was supported by the parish council), the National Trust stated to two parish councillors and myself that they had 72,000 recorded visitors last year with approximately the same amount of unrecorded visitors using the cycle path.

The Wicken Fen Vision document (found online) issued by the National Trust in 2018 states that the visitor centre welcomed over 65,000 visitors last year (2017) with many more using the access network.

We, therefore, challenge the accuracy and validity of the 20,000 visitor numbers quoted. Similarly, the statement regarding nearby on-street parking is erroneous as there is no on-street parking in the vicinity of Wicken Fen.

The parish council feel that more weight should be given to the comments made by the parish council as it is our parishioners who walk down the singe track road and who have to step onto the narrow verge (next to a ditch) when the visitors travel by car to the Fen.

This route is also part of National Cycle Route 11 and proves to be very busy with cyclists. It is also our parishioners who are unable to park outside their homes because fen visitors are parking along the village lanes to avoid the NT parking fees.

These visitors also have to walk down the single track road. During the Easter weekend, one of our parishioners who live down Lode Lane, actually allowed visitors to park in his garden to try to help the grid lock which occurred due to the number of visitors to the Easter Egg Hunt.

An uplift of 10 per cent on the correct estimated number (an increase of 7,000 visitors) shows that the parish council is justified in requesting a footpath along Lode Lane.

RACHEL EARL

Parish Clerk

Wicken Parish Council

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