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Village bids for global tourism

PUBLISHED: 17:28 23 October 2008 | UPDATED: 10:43 12 August 2010

WORLD FAMOUS: Charles Darwin.

WORLD FAMOUS: Charles Darwin.

RESIDENTS are backing a fresh bid to make the former home of evolution theorist Charles Darwin a World Heritage Site. The original proposal for Down House, in Downe, was retracted by the Department for Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS) in 2006 after advis

RESIDENTS are backing a fresh bid to make the former home of evolution theorist Charles Darwin a World Heritage Site.

The original proposal for Down House, in Downe, was retracted by the Department for Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS) in 2006 after advisors to the World Heritage Commission recommended it be rejected because of road access problems.

A revised bid has now been launched, detailing the new nomination 'Darwin's Landscape Laboratory' which covers an area of 7 km-sq and includes Down House, gardens and grounds, Downe and Cudham villages and the surrounding countryside.

Vice chairman of Downe Residents Association, David Witherspoon, said: "There have been a lot of changes to the plans and we prefer the latest one. Downe is a great place to live, it is steeped in history. There are dozens of footpaths which Darwin would have walked along.

"We held a photography exhibition last week where about 100 Downe residents turned up and the majority of them are in favour of it. We have made our views known and we'll just have to play the waiting game now, it's out of our hands."

But Mr Witherspoon added: "We do have some reservations about visitor management. Downe is gridlocked every weekend and we are a bit concerned about numbers."

Improvements to the new nomination include a new sustainable built visitor and education centre and café, better access and 'rights of way' around Downe and biodiversity conservation.

A public consultation into the plans will end on October 27.

Bromley council's World Heritage Officer, Aimee Jones, said: "It is important to us the plans reflect the views and opinions of residents. We want to put Downe on the map but we don't want to drown the village. So far we have had a positive response from residents who seem to recognise that this is a good thing."

The document is available for viewing at the Civic Centre in Bromley, Down House and libraries. It can also be viewed at www.darwinatdowne.co.uk.

katherine.nelson@archant.co.uk

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