Work is progressing on a new 74-acre country park at Little Horsted and it should be fully open next year.
Two orchards have been planted since work began in March and three kilometers of hard-surfaced paths are being built to link main access routes. Soil removed will be used to form an acoustic bund at the bottom of the park.
Farm ponds are to be restored and a car park will be built off Horsted Pond Road. The main access is expected to be a footpath running under the A22 linking to Uckfield via the new estate on land at Ridgewood Farm.
Extensive landscaping and planting are scheduled to take place early year to hide the A22 and a flower meadow is to be created. The park should be fully open later in 2018.
Extra trees will be planted at the top of Owlsbury Park, as it will be known, and Wealden Council’s cabinet member for planning and development Cllr Ann Newton, says this will provide an ideal place to exercise.
The view to the north of the park looks out to Camp Hill on Ashdown Forest. To the south is Lewes and the South Downs.
Cllr Newton said she hoped local people would use and enjoy the new orchards.
She added: “One features more traditional varieties which will include plums, cherries, walnuts and quince. A second orchard, in the north of the park, will include modern varieties. As the fruit trees mature, the apples can be used both for fruit and pressing for juice.”
Costs of the work will be refunded through developer contributions – including from the 1,000 homes site at Ridgewood Farm – towards Suitable Alternative Natural Green Space (SANGS) designed to mitigate visitor pressure on the Ashdown Forest Special Protection Area.
Wealden Council says the lowland heathland ecology of the forest is threatened by nitrogen deposition from vehicle exhaust fumes and a high amount of recreational use and SANGS, such as Owlsbury Park, will help take the pressure off it.