Wakehurst Place to introduce car parking charges

The mansion at Wakehurst Place in springtime © RBG Kew

The mansion at Wakehurst Place in springtime

Latest update 17.03.2014 14:29

In April 2014, the Wakehurst Place team will introduce car parking charges for National Trust members. National Trust members will retain free entry to Wakehurst Place. The Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew, who look after Wakehurst Place, will use this much-needed income to ensure its future. Our chairman, Sir Simon Jenkins, and the chairman of RBG Kew, Marcus Agius, have written this letter to explain further why the charges are necessary:

Dear members and supporters,

The Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew currently maintains the gardens, woodlands and the mansion at Wakehurst Place, in accordance with a lease from the National Trust. Despite being run efficiently and effectively, the net cost to Kew of running Wakehurst Place is such that we have reached a point where greater income is needed if we are to continue our outstanding horticultural standards and the wonderful visitor experience that have made Wakehurst one of the Trust’s most popular properties.

We have agreed that the best way to raise this much needed income is through the introduction of car parking charges, to be implemented in April. This change is only one element of a broader approach to put Wakehurst on a sustainable financial footing.

National Trust members will still retain their free entry to Wakehurst Place, but will pay to park. Car parking charges will also apply to those visitors who do not buy a day ticket to enter Wakehurst or do not already hold a Wakehurst Season ticket or a Friends of Kew Membership.

We recognise that this change will prompt some questions from you. With that in mind, we are hosting a series of public meetings where more detail about the changes and their potential benefits will be discussed over a cup of tea at the Mansion. These will be held on the 17 and 24 March and hosted by Andy Semple, Regional Director for the National Trust in London and the South-East and Andy Jackson, Director of Wakehurst Place.

Information can also be found here: www.kew.org/wakehurstparking

Wakehurst Place is a unique, world-class destination and we are committed to keeping it that way, for the benefit of all and for generations to come.

Thank you for your continued support – it is vital and much appreciated.

With best wishes,

Sir Simon Jenkins (Chairman, National Trust) Marcus Agius (Chairman, RBG Kew)

Questions and answers:

Q: Will everyone have to pay?

No. Friends of Kew, Wakehurst Place Season Ticket holders and those who purchase a day ticket to enter Wakehurst will not need to pay an additional fee for car parking.

Q: Does National Trust membership exempt me from the charge?

No, unless your visiting party includes one of the ticket holders mentioned in the answer above.

Q: When will the charges take effect from?

We intend to commence car park charges from mid to late April, but the exact timing will depend on the completion of the installation works.

Q: What will the initial charges be?

Cars will be £2 for the first hour, £5 for two hours, and £10 per day. Minibuses and coaches bringing school children on formal education visits will continue to be free. Group visits in minibuses and coaches will either pay the current discounted group entry rate for each passenger or an agreed fee based on the number of paying visitors in the coach.

Q: What benefit will the car parking charges bring to me, as a visitor?

As well as allowing Kew to maintain the current high standards at Wakehurst Place, the charging model allows Kew to link directly its income to the number of visitors. This, in turn, opens the door to investing in the landscape and visitor offer. We have a number of ideas, including those within our Landscape Master Plan but are keen to hear from you, the visitor too. Please do come along to one of the open meetings or contact us via wakehurst@kew.org or telephone 01444 894067.

Q: Why do you need to introduce the charges now?

Kew absorbs the running costs of Wakehurst Place and the majority (80%) of visitors to Wakehurst Place are National Trust members, who access the gardens without payment to Kew. Kew now needs to find opportunities to raise the required income to support the gardens at Wakehurst Place, and to continue to grow our popular visitor programme.

Q: What time are the public meetings and how do I sign up?

Monday 17 March
Morning session: 10.30 – 11.30am, followed by tea and coffee
Afternoon session: 1.00 – 2.00pm, followed by tea and coffee

Monday 24 March
Morning session: 10.30 – 11.30am, followed by tea and coffee
Afternoon session: 1.00 – 2.00pm, followed by tea and coffee

Please contact wakehurst@kew.org or telephone 01444 894067 to register your interest, stating clearly which session you wish to attend. All sessions will take place in the Dining Room in the Mansion.

Q: Do National Trust members have to pay to park at any other National Trust properties?

National Trust members are charged for car-parking at just a few pay for entry properties for particular reasons. There are two major properties in the North West region where this is the case because they are maintained by the local authorities on our behalf. Once having paid for parking, members do however, gain free admission to the houses in the normal way.

The two properties in the North West are: Tatton Park, Cheshire (operated by Cheshire County Council) and Shugborough, Staffordshire (operated by Staffordshire County Council) In April 2014, Wakehurst Place (operated by Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew) will also start charging National Trust members to park, bringing the total nationwide to only three properties.