10 Jul

Have you spotted a new fence going up towards the south of the woods adjacent to the Farnborough Park Estate alongside the old access track to the former Smallpox Hospital? 

The Friends of Crofton and Sparrow Woods received website and telephone contact over the past week expressing concern about changes to the woodland in the area behind the Farnborough Park Estate - circled in red on the map below. 

The area is private land, and last week was fenced off with an impressive green metal fence. This week there has been a large wood bonfire. The activity has caused people concern that there may be plans to develop the land, and that since it is part of the area of Special Scientific interest (the blue area on the map) it is required to be protected for wildlife, so felling all the trees would not be acceptable. 

On 9 July some member of this Group, along with Luke Blanchard from idverde and a member of Bromley Council’s Tree Team, went along to see what was going on for ourselves. We were very fortunate in our timing, and one of the two chaps fuelling the bonfire was the landowner and helpfully filled us in on the background and reassured about his intentions to protect and improve the woodland. 

The owner lives in a nearby house and already owns a small strip of woodland which has been fenced off. He bought the bought the piece of land in question privately from the Norman Estates people a few years ago. This was to ensure that it would not be built upon - rumours have circulated for years about the vulnerability of the area to building development. He has become concerned about dog waste bags and the woodland becoming increasingly dark due to lack of management. He has therefore installed a fence to restrict access to his family, and is managing the woodland to remove dead wood. He was receptive to the suggestion that Cherry Laurel should also be removed. He allowed idverde and the Council to walk around his site and heard their advice about the need for Natural England permission for most work within the SSSI, and on bonfire locations, tree management etc. 

So, if you get asked about the work over the summer, you can be reassuring that the landowner has no plans to destroy the woodland or develop the site for housing. Positive news to start the summer – all we need now is the rain to stop!

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