A new car park to enable people to visit an area of outstanding natural beauty on the North Devon coastline could be built.

Woolacombe Down. Picture: Gary RogersWoolacombe Down. Picture: Gary Rogers

The National Trust has submitted plans for a new 30-space pay and display car park at Woolacombe Down, off Challacombe Hill.

Woolacombe Down sits within the North Devon Heritage Coast and North Devon Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty and the National Trust has plans to convert the former farmland into a 250-acre wildlife rich site which will provide unique learning opportunities for the public to engage with nature conservation.

A dilapidated livestock pen would be removed in order for the car park to be created as currently there is no way of accessing Woolacombe Down by car, with vehicles parking in passing places on Challacombe Hill.

Details with the application state: “The existing footprint of the livestock pen will be utilised for the new car park and will provide a place for users to park to then enjoy the wider and wildlife rich Woolacombe Down.

“The 100-hectare site at Woolacombe Down is going to be restored to provide a variety of habitats including heathland and species rich grass. There will also be unique learning opportunities for the public to engage with nature conservation. It will have a positive impact for wildlife, supporting a large variety of flora and fauna. The site will also include a new series of permissive access tracks which will link in to existing rights of way.

“Currently members of the public park in passing places on the Challacombe Hill road to use the public footpath north of Woolacombe Down. This can cause obstructions for local passing traffic, the new car park will remove the need for cars to park on the road and will connect into the existing rights of way.”

A pay and display machine would be installed at the site, as would an orientation panel with information to help visitors to make the most of their visit to the site. National Trust members will be able to park for free.

The statement adds: “The proposal removes an eyesore which has developed on the landscape and reuses the site for a purpose which will allow the public to enjoy the biodiversity improved wider landscape. The location of the car park will enable users to stop and enjoy the undeveloped coast and new permissive paths on as they would otherwise unsafely park on the road.

“The proposed development will remove an eyesore within an AONB and on the Heritage Coast. It will enable users to explore the landscape and experience nature conservation whilst providing a safe place to park. The design will have minimal impact on the landscape and the proposal will result in a net gain for biodiversity.”