Local group to take woodland off council's hands for £1

A Kent local authority is poised to sell a piece of ancient woodland to a residents' group for just £1 - provided it is maintained as woodland.

Image: Malcolm Browne (CC-BY-ND 2.0)
Image: Malcolm Browne (CC-BY-ND 2.0)

The small St Mary's Wood, lying north of the seaside town of Bexhill, was due to be sold by Rother District Council at auction in May, with a guide price of £195,000, but was withdrawn at the last minute following legal advice.

The local Ellerslie Area Residents Association (EARA) then launched a bid to buy the wood, forming a company for the purpose in June with independent councillor Stuart Earl as co-director.

The company's stated aims are: "To take on sole responsibility for the ongoing maintenance and preservation of this ancient woodland area for posterity, including all ongoing costs for insurance and woodland management".

Public access rights are to be safeguarded by securing a protective covenant which would recognise this site as "an ancient woodland and open space" in perpetuity.

A Rother District Council representative said: "St Mary's Wood is still owned by the council at present but the recommendation to cabinet is that it be sold to the newly formed St Mary's Wood (EARA) Ltd for £1.

"If approved, this sale would be subject to a suitable protective covenant to safeguard the woodland site, and a clause which would give the council the right to buy back the site in the event of any future transfer of the land or winding up of the company."

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