Welcome to the website of the West Kent Downs Countryside Trust
Save the Forgotten Land
(Registered Charity No. 1083121)
In the mid 1970s approximately 110 acres of woodland, in the middle of Cobham Woods, was sold and fragmented into privately owned freehold plots for recreational use or for plantations - locally known as the leisure plots.
Some owners have, unknowingly, cleared sensitive areas and some have planted inappropriately.
Many owners have since lost interest due to difficult access, planning constraints and vandalism or are now deceased and the deeds have been passed on and lost.
The woodland is centred between the villages of Cobham and Cuxton incorporating Lodge Wood, Nor Wood and Warren Plain, formerly part of the Cobham Hall estate.
The site lies within the Kent Downs Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty. The site forms part of the Cobham Woods Site of Special Scientific Interest and LandscapeSignificance.
Why should we care?
Over the years the area has declined through misuse and neglect. The wildlife endangered and habitats destroyed by trespassers, off-road vehicles, car burning, fly-tipping and vandalism.
Although the site has seriously suffered, due to its fragmentation the diversity of the habitats has now widened and the conservation value has increased.
It is vital that the site is now managed as a whole to protect the varied habitats and return the woodland into a favourable condition.
Our Aims and Objectives:
"To conserve for the benefit of the public, the natural beauty and habitats of the Kent Downs Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty around Cobham and Cuxton; and to educate the public in the practice of such conservation."
We are a voluntary organisation of local people in Cuxton, Halling, Cobham, Luddesdown and the surrounding areas of West Kent who undertake specific projects to conserve the beauty, peace and tranquility of the traditional English countryside, right on your doorstep.
We tackle problems that affect the local countryside and promote its proper use to enable your family to enjoy its natural beauty and habitats.
We are concentrating on the area in Cobham Woods, which we now refer to as The Plot Lands. Thanks to the generosity of the late William Henry Hamilton Jnr, who left us six plots in his will, we started with a secure base to start our conservation work in the area. With the assistance of the Rail Link Countryside Initiative and the Kent Downs AONB Sustainable Development Fund we have now purchased further plots. The Trust now owns fourteen plots with a total area of about 10 acres, which is about 10% of the total area.
The Trust’s aim is to eventually acquire the entire site and conserve it in perpetuity, to safeguard the wildlife and conserve their habitat whilst providing public access for education and quiet countryside recreation.
As landowners we have a duty of care to take responsibility for demarcating the boundaries, removal of fly-tipping and foreign debris, conducting wildlife surveys, clearing, felling, and planting, as required under the Conservation Management Plan approved by Natural England and the Forestry Commission.
This important project is a huge task and can only be achieved through public support and a willing Membership to voluntarily undertake ownership of the area and, if able, to participate in conservation tasks, fundraising projects and events.
Please Join the Trust
We currently have a membership of around 160 enthusiastic people and work closely with other countryside organisations such as Plantlife International, Kent Wildlife Trust, Kent Downs AONB and the Cuxton Countryside Group, as well as Kent County Council, Medway Unitary Authority and Gravesham Borough Council.
Members of the West Kent Downs Countryside Trust and companions have Right of Access to the Trust’s sites for enjoyment within the Trusts’ remit. Insurance Cover is provided when participating in Trust activities.
We hope you enjoy exploring our website and that it helps you to understand our work. Please let us have your feedback about our site via our Contact Us page. We hope it will stimulate your interest and hopefully prompt you to join us in our conservation work by becoming a member of the trust.