Leybourne Lakes Country Park
|Leybourne Lakes Country Park|
|Area||93 hectares (230 acres)|
|Operated by||Tonbridge and Malling Borough Council|
|Open||7 days a week, dawn until dusk|
|Website||Leybourne Lakes Country Park - Tonbridge and Malling Borough Council|
Leybourne Lakes Country Park is near Snodland, in Kent, England. The park, which opened in 2004, was created from disused gravel pits that have been flooded and landscaped to make fishing and wildlife lakes.
Snodland was once a centre of industry along the river, with papermaking and chalk quarries being the main employers in the town. One of the former chalk pits located near to the River Medway, became Brookland Lake. A public footpath leads from Snodland, past Brookland Lake into Leybourne Lakes.
The village of Larkfield (to the south of the lakes) has expanded rapidly since the M20 motorway was constructed in the 1970s and it continues to grow, with new housing developments being built. Mineral extraction also ceased in the 1970s. The gravel pits and surrounding area were designated as a Site of Nature Conservation Interest (SNCI). The site was identified in the 'Tonbridge and Malling Local Plan' for development into a country park, with the partnership of Berkeley Homes.
The housing development of 'The Lakes in Leybourne' by Berkeley Homes  (seen in the photos), was created beside one of the disused gravel pits that had been turned into man-made lakes. The decision to build on this area was unpopular with some Larkfield residents, but the remaining lakes were turned into a country park and nature reserve to offset the impact of this new housing. The lakes and reserve were later handed over to Tonbridge and Malling Borough Council in 2004. They are the current owners and maintain the lakes and paths.
The 93 hectares (230 acres)  of lakes now provide a peaceful location for wildlife and birdwatching, whilst also allowing watersports enthusiasts the opportunity to windsurf, canoe and kayak in the man-made lakes. Diving also takes place in one of the lakes. Around the lakes are a series of woods and gentle trails, popular with dogwalkers and recreational walkers.
A small charge is payable for use of car parking, situated close to the visitor centre. Mobile caterers provide refreshments during the summer.
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