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Any pitfalls in buying a very small woodland ?
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adam2
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PostPosted: Thu Oct 06, 2011 4:18 pm    Post subject: Any pitfalls in buying a very small woodland ? Reply with quote

Friends in the West country are considering buying a very small piece of woodland that adjoins their garden.
It is about one acre, mainly neglected wood land with a marshy/swampy bit.
The farmer wants rid of it, and cant easily sell to anyone else since access is only via the existing farm or the existing garden.

My friends want to buy it mainly to protect against future development, but also as a source of firewood.
They propose to clear cut a narrow strip that adjoins the present garden, which is very dark. The cleared area would used for vegetable gardening.
The remainder would be managed, mainly for small building timber and firewood.
There are many silver birch trees, some might make good timber, but a lot look to me to be dead or dying and perhaps rotten.

Would PP be needed for small, non residential buildings ? a store/workshop/stable is proposed. AFAIK agricultural buildings are exempt, but in this case the area is too small to count as farm or smallholding.

Would draining the small marsh or swamp be advisable ? Looks easy.
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emordnilap



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PostPosted: Thu Oct 06, 2011 4:27 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Consider planting trees which like wet ground (alder?). Or willow - that likes wet ground, very easy to propagate and can be coppiced or used for making baskets etc.
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postie



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PostPosted: Thu Oct 06, 2011 6:17 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Is planning permission needed for temporary structures? Sheds, stables, etc.. as long as they aren't dwellings?

Oh, and even if they can't get PP... it seems a great opportunity depending on the price.. at the very least they've got a burial plot Very Happy
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UndercoverElephant



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PostPosted: Thu Oct 06, 2011 6:27 pm    Post subject: Re: Any pitfalls in buying a very small woodland ? Reply with quote

adam2 wrote:

There are many silver birch trees, some might make good timber, but a lot look to me to be dead or dying and perhaps rotten.

Would draining the small marsh or swamp be advisable ? Looks easy.


Are there any other areas of marsh and swamp around there? Because if there aren't, then I'm willing to bet that this area is actually an oasis of biodiversity. Boggy areas with birch and dead trees lying around is precisely the sort of place I go looking for fungi (they should watch out for a brightly coloured edible mushroom called a yellow swamp russula.) Anywhere with dead trees is paradise for insects and fungi, and these provide food for other creatures.

Much of the time the best thing we can do for the natural world is leave it alone.
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woodpecker



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PostPosted: Thu Oct 06, 2011 8:06 pm    Post subject: Re: Any pitfalls in buying a very small woodland ? Reply with quote

adam2 wrote:



Would PP be needed for small, non residential buildings ? a store/workshop/stable is proposed. AFAIK agricultural buildings are exempt, but in this case the area is too small to count as farm or smallholding.



The rules are different (more lax) for forestry, with no size threshold, more stuff permitted.

Good summary here:

http://www.woodlands.co.uk/buying-a-wood/planning-and-woodlands.php
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bealers



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PostPosted: Thu Oct 06, 2011 8:20 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Depends on the price? Given that woodland is going for 3k - 5k per acre (or more if bought through the retail sites like Woodlands.co.uk) and this is only 1 with poor access (except for your friends) then I'd assume they are offering around 1k - 2k, though of course that depends how much they want it.

I'd echo the comments re: biodiversity and the swampy bit though that said a compromise could be some willow and alder on the periphery. This also goes for any dead trees though as someone else mentioned these can be a great habitat for beneficial mycelium and bugs.

I think with planning permission they should set their expectations low. Some form of 'shelter' they'd probably get away with if for storing tools etc. If it were me then I'd just put something (simple) up and see if anyone notices. On mine I bought a crappy 50 shed off ebay and just put it up. I'm also about to put up a canvas cover over a clearing to give a decent amount of shelter for a fire pit and other activities. If the space is designated ancient woodland then they've probably no chance of getting planning.

FYI for personal use firewood they can take out 5 cubic meters per quarter without needing a felling licence, or more if it's < 8cm in diameter around a meter off the ground. If it's for coppice then I think it has to be less than 15cm in diameter at that height.

If I were them, and the price was right, I'd bite the farmers hand off.
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adam2
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PostPosted: Thu Oct 06, 2011 8:49 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

The total area of the land to be sold is just under 2 acres, it is proposed that my friends buy the half that adjoins their garden, and that their next door neighbours buy the other half.
2,000 each, or say about 2,500 an acre.

Draining the swamp looks easy, but as others post, might be better left as is in the interests of wild life.

Clear cutting a small area to give more garden area, and keeping the rest as lightly managed woodland appears attractive.

BTW, the present owner of the woodland considered it to be almost worthless until browsing these forums ! and reading about peak oil and the likely future demand for firewood.
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Catweazle



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PostPosted: Thu Oct 06, 2011 10:07 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

They can't go wrong for 2500 per acre for land that adjoins their house. It's a no brainer.

Plant Alder, it will survive the wet conditions and actually help to dry the land. It's good firewood, makes great charcoal ( and gunpowder, but don't tell Ludwig Wink ) and grows fairly fast.

Once the Alder has improved the land they can start a forest garden and grow some food.
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JohnB



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PostPosted: Fri Oct 07, 2011 12:24 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Turning part of the wood into garden might cause a problem, as it's agricultural/forestry land, and not within the curtilage of the house. There have been lots of stories in the media over the years about people doing it, and it seems that local authorities have maps of these things. I don't know if being a vegetable garden, rather than lawn and flowers will get round it, but it might cause some hassle.
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kenneal - lagger
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PostPosted: Fri Oct 07, 2011 2:58 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

As John says, turning part of it into a part of the garden will be jumped upon by the local Planning Authority. They will insist that is is kept fenced off from the existing garden and anything that makes it look anything other than woodland will attract their ire and they'll want it removed. A forest garden? Now that's something entirely different.

Price? If you've got the money and aren't borrowing it anything up to 10,000 would be a good price. It depends how much you want the land and its produce. It will add that to the value of the house, although that will be dropping in the future. Money in the bank isn't attracting much interest at the moment and is not likely to in the medium term either. How do you value independence and resilience?

We may be in the same situation later in the year, although the land is mainly pasture with a bit of woodland but with the potential for some good alder and willow. We'll pay what's necessary, but don't tell the landowners that!
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lancasterlad



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PostPosted: Fri Oct 07, 2011 6:21 am    Post subject: Re: Any pitfalls in buying a very small woodland ? Reply with quote

adam2 wrote:
Would PP be needed for small, non residential buildings ? a store/workshop/stable is proposed. AFAIK agricultural buildings are exempt, but in this case the area is too small to count as farm or smallholding

The following is from the Farmer's Guide to Planning and realtes to farmland NOT working woodland but it may help someone...

Quote:
You do not always need planning permission. It is not required for agricultural operations, or the use of existing buildings on agricultural land for agricultural purposes. It is also not required, generally speaking, for changes to the inside of buildings, or for small alterations to the outside (eg., the installation of an alarm box).
Permitted development rights exist for erecting (on holdings of 5 hectares or more), extending or altering a building, and for excavations and engineering operations, which are reasonably necessary for the purposes of agriculture within the unit - though you may still require the local
planning authoritys approval for certain details of the development (see paragraphs 2.7-2.Cool. For most other types of development and change of use you will generally need to apply for planning permission.

The key here is the 5 hectare limit which is the OVERALL holding the farmer owns. If he has 3 fields (even unconnected) that make up his holding and they total over 5 hectares then there are permitted rights. Any new buildings on a holding under 5 hectares would need an "agricultural determination" from the planners.

On a holding under 5 hectares any building that requires ANY engineering works to the ground would likely need permission - that means levelling land, creating foundations or even securing a shed to the ground with posts. A stable may raise the question of a change of use to "equine" activities.

My chicken hut is on skids so it's moveable, so is my shed. My woodstore isn't fixed to the ground, neither is the pig ark.

The new land needs to be seen to be separate from the garden or they will run into problems - it needs to look like a working piece of land free of garden ornaments etc.
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adam2
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PostPosted: Fri Oct 07, 2011 10:16 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

They have decided to buy.
The vendor will erect a new barbed wire fence along the new boundary between the farm and the woodland.
PP will be sought for felling a very small area for vegetable growing.
The remainder to be lightly managed without undue disturbance.

The woodland slopes somewhat, with my friends half being the lower end and therefore containing the swampy area.

They hope to build a single building with three areas for use as a store, a workshop, and a stable. They dont intend to obtain a horse, but want suitable facilities in case one is needed in the future.

Their neighbours intend to keep free range chickens, and to cut fire wood.
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woodpecker



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PostPosted: Fri Oct 07, 2011 10:34 am    Post subject: Re: Any pitfalls in buying a very small woodland ? Reply with quote

lancasterlad wrote:
adam2 wrote:
Would PP be needed for small, non residential buildings ? a store/workshop/stable is proposed. AFAIK agricultural buildings are exempt, but in this case the area is too small to count as farm or smallholding

The following is from the Farmer's Guide to Planning and realtes to farmland NOT working woodland but it may help someone...

Quote:
You do not always need planning permission. It is not required for agricultural operations, or the use of existing buildings on agricultural land for agricultural purposes. It is also not required, generally speaking, for changes to the inside of buildings, or for small alterations to the outside (eg., the installation of an alarm box).
Permitted development rights exist for erecting (on holdings of 5 hectares or more), extending or altering a building, and for excavations and engineering operations, which are reasonably necessary for the purposes of agriculture within the unit - though you may still require the local
planning authoritys approval for certain details of the development (see paragraphs 2.7-2.Cool. For most other types of development and change of use you will generally need to apply for planning permission.

The key here is the 5 hectare limit which is the OVERALL holding the farmer owns. If he has 3 fields (even unconnected) that make up his holding and they total over 5 hectares then there are permitted rights. Any new buildings on a holding under 5 hectares would need an "agricultural determination" from the planners.




That relates to agricultural land, NOT to woodland/forest. As I pointed out above (follow the link) woodland has entirely different rules, and there is no threshold as there is for agricultural.

See for example:

http://www.smallwoods.org.uk/media/OLD%20CONTENT/PDF/9%20-%20Smallwoods%20Mag%20merged.pdf

I consider Lucy Nichol to be a reasonable interpreter of law and regulations on this issue.

SI 418 can be found here:
http://www.legislation.gov.uk/uksi/1995/418/contents/made
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PostPosted: Fri Oct 07, 2011 11:08 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

We planted half-a-dozen alders on a soggy patch of ground and they've firmed up the soil quite a bit; other plants which liked those conditions (flag iris, for instance) have not survived.

Alders grow quickly, need near zero attention and self-seed, so I see them as being a great firewood tree.
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lurker



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PostPosted: Fri Oct 07, 2011 12:33 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Sounds like a real bargin. Most farmers would want say 8k a acre for that i reckon. The farmer must be a really nice person or doesn't realize the value Smile

All the woodland for sale on the internet is alot more expensive even alot bigger plots were you would think you would pay alot less per acre...

Seems alot of middle men companies are buying large woodland plots parcelling them up then re-selling.

Good thread on alder:

http://arbtalk.co.uk/forum/firewood-forum/2175-alder-logs.html
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