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Cobtree Estate Update
The Leisure Manager introduced his report providing an update on activities at the Cobtree Manor Estate since the last meeting of the Committee in September 2021. It was noted that:
Cobtree Manor Park
· Car park income for the first half of the year was £67,363, which was a positive variance of more than £26,000.
· The Hazlitt Theatre had staged two sell-out performances of Alice in Wonderland in the Park on 3 and 4 September 2021 and tickets for the winter lights trail from 15 December 2021 to 31 December 2021 were selling well.
· The Park Manager had secured a donation of time and resources from a local company to plant new hedgerows in and around the Park. The hedgerows would provide better biodiversity and wildlife habitat and, in time, replace ageing fencing.
· The Council’s Biodiversity and Climate Change Manager had identified areas at the Cobtree Manor Estate as being suitable for additional tree planting and some natural flood prevention works as follows:
The perimeter of Forstal Field including the boundary with the M20;
The Kent Life boundary with the M20; and
The north west corner of the Estate beyond the Golf Course.
A meeting would be held with some of the tenant organisations to discuss the practicalities of taking this initiative forward.
Cobtree Golf Course
· Summer trading at the Golf Course had continued to recover with membership numbers, green fees and casual visitor numbers above pre-pandemic levels. The Golf Course was now moving into its winter operation with reduced hours of opening but with more events and social gatherings taking place inside where restrictions allowed.
· Kent Life was also continuing to recover post-pandemic with events planned for Bonfire Night and Christmas.
· Work to catalogue the Kent Life collection of artifacts had progressed. Meetings had been held with colleagues at Maidstone Museum and some external heritage organisations specialising in farming and rural life had been engaged. A report would be submitted to a future meeting when plans were sufficiently developed.
· Cobtree Café had continued to trade well throughout the summer and repairs to the flooring in the Visitor Centre toilets had been completed.
Cobtree Shed Group/Elephant House
· The Cobtree Shed Group had arranged more suitable alternative accommodation at Kent Life. Once vacant, the Elephant House building would be made good and options for its future use would be considered. In the short term, it would be used for storage purposes.
In response to questions, the Leisure Manager advised the Committee that:
· Although there was not an official Friends Group, a number of volunteer groups used the Park and there was potential to involve them in the tree planting project. In terms of engaging with the Woodland Trust or other groups, he would need to take advice from the Park Manager and the Biodiversity and Climate Change Manager about the scope and scale of the project and how many people could be involved.
· The Cobtree Café was planning to open on some of the days when the winter ... view the full minutes text for item 43