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Frequently asked questions

We hope to answer any questions you may have concerning the cafe development process. The following information will be updated periodically to help answer your questions throughout the development.

Should you not find the information you require, please send an email to the following address, where we will aim to help.

What is happening with the cafe under the development project?

Bedgebury has recently received the exciting news that Tunbridge Wells Borough Council has granted planning approval for the development of the café facilities at the visitor centre. Forestry Commission funding will enable a specially designed glass fronted extension to the building which in turn will mean that seating areas will be increased, and the design has been made to make the most of the beautiful views out across the lake, and over the National Pinetum.

What other facilities will there be in the new cafe?

Once completed, the re-designed café building will enable an increase in indoor seating from 24 to over 100, as well as an extension to the kitchen space. Additional outdoor sheltered areas and a ‘grab and go’ hatch will also be built into the rear of the existing building to make service easier those visitors that like refreshments “on the go”.

What food will be available in the new cafe?

The new Bedgebury Cafe will offer a complete range of hot and cold food and drinks, maintaining the Forestry Commission’s focus of sourcing sustainable and local products where possible. Choices will include breakfasts, light lunches and sandwiches, as well as a hot lunch menu.

When will the new Cafe be open?

Building is due to begin around September 2014, and we hope that work will be completed in time to open for Easter 2015.

Where can I get food and drink while the building work takes place?

We aim to make the transition as smooth as possible, and from thursday 6 November we will be providing temporary cafe facilities on site, in order to minimise the impact on our visitors. We appreciate our visitors' support and understanding during this process.

What is happening with the other facilities at the Visitor Centre?

As there is likely to be a lot of disruption around the visitor centre we will be putting some temporary facilities in place Whilst the information office will remain open in the same place, the cafe will move to a new temporary home, at the entrance to the Pinetum. We will also have temporary toilets in place in the car park, as access to the old toilets and showers will no longer be allowed while building work takes place. Please follow all safety and diversion signs.

Is any of the rest of the site going to be affected?

Quench Cycles and Go Ape will remain open throughout the building works, and all of our usual events and activities will continue. As the area in and around the visitor centre will be a construction site, some areas will be fenced off and we ask that you follow all diversion signage for your own safety.

What does all this mean for Bedgebury?

The development of the café is a positive change for Bedgebury, and one that will improve the experience for our visitors. There will be more indoor seating in a cosy environment over winter, and speedier service throughout the year.

What is happening with the cafe and ice cream businesses?

The current arrangements for the café and for ice cream sales at Bedgebury have both come to an end as their respective agreements have expired.  As part of the tender process for the new cafe development, the decision was made to combine both businesses. The Forestry Commission tender process is open and transparent and follows best practice guidelines, with the process being open to anyone to tender, including existing or previous businesses.

Will dogs be allowed in the new cafe?

As part of this project, we have taken the opportunity to review the areas accessible for dogs, and have taken the decision not to allow dogs (except assistance dogs) inside the Café, Visitor Centre, Information Office or the toilets and showers when the Bedgebury Cafe re-opens. There will be sheltered seating areas suitable for dogs in a number of locations outside of the redeveloped building, and the undercover ‘grab and go’ serving hatch at the rear of the Cafe can be used by cyclists and dog walkers alike. We will be working with both of these user groups to make sure the 'grab and go' and outside areas are both usable and informative for all visitors.

England's Woods and Forests are cared for by Forest Enterprise England, an agency of the Forestry Commission.