Proposed Improvement Works at Exford Car Park

NB - This Consultation period has now ended - to see the revised proposals click here.

Consultation on proposals for our Exford Car Park.

Exford car park

Introduction and Background

This proposal forms part of a wider scheme for improvements across the Exmoor National Park Authority owned estate. We aim to ensure that all our car parks and picnic areas provide well managed ‘gateways’ to Exmoor National Park - ensuring that they are welcoming, easy to use, maximise the benefits for nature and climate, and provide high quality information to celebrate the locations which they serve. At the same time, through introducing appropriate charging, we aim to offset some or all of the substantial annual cost to maintain them so that we can continue to provide high quality facilities with a sustainable funding model that is less reliant on our core government funding. In real terms our current government funding is around half of what it was 10 years ago.

The car park at Exford lies close to the heart of the village and was created from open land at the same time as the ENPA Depot was built. The car park is well used by the local community, the primary school and visitors to Exmoor and is an important facility within the village. It is well placed for local facilities and access to the public rights of way network. The car park includes a public toilet that is maintained by Exford Parish Council.

The site is approached by a side road from the village, which in effect passes through the car park and provides access to the sewage treatment works beyond. This is a factor in the development of any scheme for the car park, because access must be maintained for lorries at all times.

The car park has a hard surface and on the south side there is a small grass area beside the bank of the River Exe. This is notionally a picnic area but has no benches or other facilities.

The site would benefit from some public information and most of the signage is in a poor state. The surface road and parking areas are in generally good repair but vehicle barriers and public access around the site could be improved. Line marking is worn and faded. There is an opportunity to improve the nature value of the site and help to fight climate change through tree planting and changes to how we manage grass cutting.  Picnic benches used to be provided at the site but were removed over 10 years ago.

A meeting was attended with Exford Parish Council back in September 2022 to discuss issues and opportunities with this car park and the council raised the following points:

i. charging could displace parking into the village,

ii. some vehicles are left in the car park for long periods or are dumped there and seem to take a long time to remove,

iii. the car park is often full,

iv. Exmoor National Park Authority vehicles use the car park frequently and it was asked if they could use space at the Depot instead,

v. school teachers use the car park,

vi. we should avoid charging for those dropping off/picking up from school,

v. we should avoid charging for short stay in order to support local businesses,

vi. the car park is not big enough and it might be possible to incorporate a bank of spaces down the middle of it to increase capacity,

vii. the village green is very popular so can this be signed from the car park in order to link the car park to the village,

viii. Electric Vehicle (EV) charging points would be welcomed,

ix. overnight motor homes need managing,

x. consider parking permits,

xi. consider transferable tickets between Exmoor National Park Authority car parks,

xii. the car park looks tired, cluttered at the entrance and needs a refresh.

Proposed Scope of Works 

It seems clear there is scope at Exford to improve the current facilities and how they are managed. A scheme has been drawn up which seeks to incorporate as many positive improvements as possible whilst also introducing formal chargeable parking.

Specifically, the new scheme will include:

  • Two public Electric Vehicle (EV) charging points with capacity to expand (subject to availability of sufficient grid power)
  • Six additional parking spaces (by providing a central bank of spaces).
  • A routed timber fingerpost signposting the village green and local services,
  • 30 minutes free parking for school drop off and use of the village shop etc.
  • We will also refresh/rationalise the entrance signage, fencing and bollards and provide a better and safer pavement in front of the toilets.
  • A small tree planting scheme within the grass area and provision of several accessible picnic tables.

Separately we are reviewing the overall management of our car parks and this will address some of the concerns expressed by the Parish Council around inappropriate use of the car park.

We have recently introduced an annual parking permit scheme that at £60 per year provides an affordable option for regular users that is transferable across all of our charged car parks. We hope that this, along with 30 minutes free parking and a sensible charging rate, will reduce any potential displacement of parking to less suitable places.

The proposed parking charging rate will be:

Free for 30 mins, £1.50 for 1 hour, £3 for 3 hours and £5 for over 3 hours.

Proposed Timing of Works 

Spring/Summer 2023 – public consultation process.

Summer 2023– review scheme in light of public consultation responses

Late Summer 2023 - initial works to be completed including the provision of payment facilities and replacement entry signage.

Autumn/Winter 2023 – groundworks, tree planting and revision of onsite interpretation material.

Get in touch

We would really welcome feedback on this proposal, particularly from our regular users.

Please send any comments to by 7th July 2023 . Individual meetings or a public meeting can be organised if this is considered helpful, using virtual meeting technology.

This project is being managed by our Access and Recreation Manager, Dan Barnett. Please send in any comments for my attention. Thank you.