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archive: Lyminge Forest - Questions and Answers
(Written by Greensword. The Spout House Lyminge Kent CT21 4LQ
Direct Camp Communication 0410 536 592 (Blue))

the story so far
why here?
why not?
how to get there
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The story so far

A very large up-market leisure development built on and directly affecting over 1000 acres of 'officially protected' forest, wood and farmland, forming part of the North Downs Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty. This area was afforded special protection by the Countryside Commission on behalf of the department of the Environment. The DoE has now bowed to commercial pressure and reneged on that protection by giving Rank permission to send in the bull-dozers.

The development would take the form of an 'Oasis Village' the size of a small town, designed to provide short holiday breaks for over 4,000 guests and facilities for 700 staff at prices that put them beyond the reach of most people who now visit and walk in West Wood and who would no longer be allowed to do so. It would involve the building of 350 waterside villas, 400 forest lodges, 90 studio apartments, staff accommodation, a large village centre with shops, a restaurant, 'entertainment's' and a 'sub-tropical waterworld', a waterside restaurant, a country club and 9 hole golf courses, a reception and administration block, parking for 3 400 cars and lorries and interconnecting roads between all 850+ buildings.

The DoE claims to discourage 'green field' developments in the countryside, especially in 'protected' areas and those that require, encourage or create new road traffic. There would be construction of over 20 acres of rubber-lined lakes and waterways needing over 17.5 million gals. of water (just to fill) weighing 88,000 tonnes. The maintenance of their levels and the interconnecting water courses would consume over 100 000 gals/day and the village would use 'in excess of 220 000 gals/day'.

East Kent is seriously short and getting shorter of water. The extensive building development in West Wood would open-up Sibton Wood, Park Wood, Beveridge Bottom Wood and farmland at Mockbeggar to several thousand pairs of feet each week. This according to Rank is a good example of sustainable development. We say to Rank 'You must be joking'. What do you think?


Lyminge Forest (West wood) comprises 440 acres of maturing and recently planted mixed woodland on forestry commission (now privatised as 'Forest Enterprise') land. forming a large part of Lyminge Forest.

All the forest is currently accessible to members of the public who visit each year in the evenings and at weekends in pairs and small groups all over Kent and SE London to walk and picnic in its tranquil rides and open glades.

As the results of current Forestry Commission practice of planting mixed deciduous and conifer woodland, the size and location of Westwood and the rest of Lyminge Forest provides one of the very few remaining refuges for an unusually rich diversity of wildlife, some of it is quite rare and all of it under increasing development pressure in the S.E. England: Westwood also provides a green lung and open space for urban residents. Westwood is still in public ownership but is due to be sold to Rank for approx. £4m.

The Rank Organisation - Hard Rock Cafes to butlins - is one of the largest holiday and leisure companies in Europe, and part of its corporate development plan includes breaking into the 'Artificial village in a Forest' self-catering holiday markets in the UK, currently dominated by Centre Parcs. The newly appointed Chairman, ex-ICI boss Sir Denys Henderson, is determined to out-do Centre Parcs with bigger and better 'Oasis Villages' in more of the most beautiful and sensitive parts of the English countryside. We have been warned Centre Parcs maintain this markets is now almost fully catered-for and that Rank are ill advised to proceed with the Westwood site, which with others like, would form a separate profit-centre within the Rank Organisation as part of its continuing expansion programme, which includes the Whinfell Forest site near Penrith in Cumbria, currently under construction.



Unlike Centre Parcs who were offered but turned down the opportunity to bye Westwood and who prefer to site their 'villages on bare land on which they spend around £1m per site planting with trees , Rank are taking advantage of the Government's continuing raid on the Nation's family silver, which obliges the Forestry Commission to sell woodland were it can. Rank's policy that can only be described as the rape of the countryside.

Rank claim to have looked at over 70 other sites in Kent. all of which they say are 'unsuitable' . Testing this clam at the Public Inquiry last summer, the Countryside Commission, who fiercely oppose Rank's plan, exposed the superficiality of Rank's investigations and feeble reasons for turning down many of them. The real reasons is that they want Westwood - come Hell or High water (no water-shortage pun intended). One might have thought that an example of good sustainable development practice would be the restoration of a derelict or empty site though tree-planting rather than the annihilation of a rich one. Giving rather than taking. But that is not Rank's Way. The price is right, and Rank cannot wait. with Shepway District Council waving them on and Canterbury city Council not standing in their way, who can blame them?



Because the direct loss of most of Westwood and the disturbance to Sibton, park and Beveridge Bottom Woods and the farmland at Mockbeggar would represent a severe environmental and ecological impact. Kent is already over-developed for its area and environmental significance and capacity to maintain regional biodiversity.

Rank display a profound ignorance of environmental and ecological matters when they imply that Westwood was ruined by the 1987 and 1990 storms, and they show a surprising degree of arrogance and bad taste in saying that their holiday village would improve the landscape.

How do Rank suppose Mother Nature has managed on her own without them in Kent since the last Ice Age?

The Rank development would significantly increase noise, light and disturbance levels in the area, by virtue of the weight of numbers of people and road vehicles. Air pollution would increase measurably.

The additional strain on the area's water resources would put the normal local supplies at great risk. The large additional of sewage that would be dispatched to the crude and inadequate existing coastal plant would further pollute Shepway's inshore waters.

The thousands of Kent people who now enjoy the amenity of Westwood in a way that results in insignificant disturbance to its well-settled ecology , would be debarred from it. So while Rank's 4,000 visitors and staff would be severely disturbing what remained of Westwood, it would be Kents people who would otherwise have visited Westwood who would be looking for an alternative site, adding to the pressure there.

Its all a matter of scale and reasonableness. What is proposed is out of kilter with the size and capacity of the place and the flora and fauna that live there to absorb the effects without serious damage- to say nothing of the local residents. Rank's Oasis Village is an example of unsustainable development.


How to get there

Maps Grid Reference TR 141441 Ordnance Survey PathFinder 1231 Ordnance Survey LandRanger 189

From Canterbury (Kent)

B2068 going south 9 miles to a BP garage at a crossroads, turn left and continue until you see a Forestry Commission nature trail sign. Continue down the drive until you meet someone from the visitors information tent.

From Junction 11 of the M20

Go four miles north on the B2068 until you come to a protester or a BP garage at a crossroads, turn right and continue until you see a Forestry Commission nature trail sign. Continue down the drive until you meet some one from the visitors information tent.

Train from Folkestone.

Arrive at Folkestone walk down the station approach past the taxi rank and look for a bus stop with the Lyminge time table. Ask the driver for the nearest stop to the BP garage near West Wood.


If you can't make it to Lyminge send a donation from the wish list or a cheque to

C. Wood
c/o Alan Kyte,
Clover Land, New Barn,
Lyminge, Folkstone,
CT18 8DS

Contact: for more info

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