Plans to impose charges to enter Lion Gates at Belton House sparks anger within Grantham community
Plans to impose entrance fees to enter the Lion Gates at Belton House have sparked anger within the community.
The gates at the rear of the estate on Belton Lane have been used for years by locals and dog walkers who were angered when they were closed by the National Trust some months ago over safety issues.
The gates were reopened last month with additional security measures put in place.
But a sign has now gone up at the gates informing visitors about proposed plans to charge admission for non-members after a significant increase in the number of people using the Lion Gates to access the parkland.
The sign also states: “As a conservation charity, the National Trust relies on fund-raising, and the support of members and parking visitors, to look after Belton for the nation.
“We recognise that this may be a significant change for regular visitors and we will enter into consultation with our local community during the process.
“While this has been used as a free entry into the park for many years, it is not a public right of way and only remains open with the permission of the National Trust.”
Deborah Green, who lives near the gates on Belton Lane campaigned for the reopening earlier this year and joined a number of people who gathered at the entrance in June to voice their anger at the possibility of being charged to enter through the gates.
She said: “I think we did very well to eventually get the Lion Gates reopened for local residents to use.
“I think it’s a shame that the National Trust now plans to restrict access to members only when historically the Grantham people have always had access to the parkland.”
The announcement was met with mixed reactions online.
Darren Short posted: “You should not have closed the park to visitors outside in the fresh air,” whereas Peter McGuffie suggested installing an honesty box at the gates.
He added: “Suggest £1 per adult, some will pay some won’t but the charity will still be raising money.”
Hayley Louise added: “We walk down there regularly to look at the deer etc. Not a nice thing to do to the locals.”
Kirsty Langdon thinks it’s “disgraceful to be charged for walking in the parkland.”
But Gary Panter agrees with the idea.
He added: “If people want to walk round the gardens, go to the coffee shop, gift shop or the playground, then you should pay for it. National Trust members like myself pay for a membership so we can visit, so why should people get in for free?”
Ian Cooper, general manager for the National Trust at Belton House, confirmed that local residents will have the opportunity to share their views on the proposed
He added: “The National Trust believes in the benefits of spending time in nature and green spaces for mental health and well-being. We’re working with Woodland Trust, supported by National Lottery Heritage Fund, on the Reconnecting Grantham project which is improving visitor facilities at Bellmount, Londonthorpe and Alma Park for the people of Grantham. These woods are free for everyone to visit, dogs are welcome off-lead in Bellmount Woods, and free car parking is available on Five Gates Lane.
“The National Trust is an independent charity, and we rely on income raised through membership and admissions to care for special places like Belton now and for future generations.
“As most visitors to Belton House access the estate via a paid point of entry, it is important that we acknowledge that support by establishing a managed entry point at Lion Gates.
“We are committed to working with residents to ensure that Belton remains accessible and at the heart of our community, and we will seek to find solutions.”