Free entry into popular Lion Gates entrance at Belton House in Grantham under threat
The Lion Gates at Belton House may no longer be free to enter under proposals for the future of the popular parkland.
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 (September) 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 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."
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 plans.
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 local residents to ensure that Belton remains accessible and at the heart of our community, and we will seek to find solutions that work for all."