PRESS RELEASE: Sevenoaks Town Council submits intention to bid on Ancient Woodland in effort to protect a Local Asset
Published: 19 December 2023
Following notification from the landowners of Longspring Woods, Oak Lane, of their intention to sell the large parcel of ancient woodland located in the Green Belt, Sevenoaks Town Council has now submitted an Intention to Bid in order to protect the land as an Asset of Community Value. This was agreed at the Town Council meeting held on 11th December 2023.
The below parcel of ancient woodland, which is now up for sale, was successfully registered by the Town Council – alongside another nearby piece of woodland – as an Asset of Community Value on 25th September 2023. This was on the grounds that it furthers the social wellbeing and recreational interests of the community, with reasonable expectation for it to continue to do so in the future.
What does this mean?
Registering the Council’s intention to bid does not constitute an obligation for the Town Council to submit a bid and buy the land, nor does it obligate the landowner from selling to the Town Council. Rather, it extends the period by which the landowner must delay sale on the open market, in order to allow community organisations time to prepare a bid and business plan for how it would purchase and maintain the land.
The next steps therefore are for the Town Council to prepare these two documents via a Working Group in the New Year 2024.
Why this is important:
Retaining and protecting the woodland, which contains 8 separate trees covered by a Tree Protection Order (TPO) as well as one section being covered under a blanket TPO, provides the following benefits:
- Protects an area of woodland which is over 400 years old, located within the Green Belt and Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty;
- Supporting the retention of local wildlife and biodiversity. Wooded areas have a huge range of habitat niches and increased amount of different species and complex biodiversity
- Contributes to the government’s goal of towards Net 0 and responding to climate change, which serves the local community’s health and well-being;
- Opportunity to improve and enhance access to the woodland, which already abuts two Public Rights of Way, thereby encouraging more walking and healthier lifestyles
- Located near Sevenoaks Common and a local playing field used by local schools and groups, creating opportunity to link the green spaces and enhance these assets.
- Supports a commitment by Sevenoaks Town Council in its Green Community Investment Plan, to obtain additional land if it could be used for community benefit e.g., additional woodland or community orchard.
How much will this cost?
The land is currently showing as “Under Offer”, with £135,000 as the guide price.
The Mayor of Sevenoaks, Cllr Claire Shea said:
‘It is important that we protect Assets of Community Value for the current and future local community.
Our Green Community Investment Plan acknowledges that rarely, but occasionally, land does come up for sale in Sevenoaks. It states that Sevenoaks Town Council will consider putting in place and process an ‘In Principle’ resolution to enable STC to obtain additional land if it could be used for community benefit e.g., additional woodland or community Orchard”.
We will therefore be reviewing carefully whether it is possible to buy this land at Longspring Wood in order to protect it for future public use and extend our current, much-valued Common Land.”
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