Hole Farm Community Woodland given go ahead


20 Dec 2023

The 100-hectare site is being developed as part of our Lower Thames Crossing project and will become home to around 150,000 new trees, and provide facilities for visitors, including a network of surfaced paths, a café and community room.

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Hole Farm

Forestry England has announced it has been given the green light to provide the proposed infrastructure and facilities for visitors at this new community woodland, including a network of surfaced paths, café, community room and other community facilities on Hole Farm in Brentwood, Essex

The plans for the green space were designed and developed with the needs of local people in mind, with feedback from local people incorporated into the final planning application, which was given approval through the process of an Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) for afforestation. The consent given by Brentwood Borough Council now clears the way for work to start on facilities including:

  • A café
  • A community room
  • Visitor shelter
  • Tree nursery
  • A network of footpaths and new access points
  • A network of ponds
  • Visitors’ car park

Work is expected to start on the new facilities in 2024, and open to the public in summer 2025. Constructing the new facilities will embody National Highways’ commitment to using a local workforce and pushing the boundaries of low-carbon construction. The work will be carried out by small- and medium-sized businesses from within 20 miles of the woodland, and the site will be diesel-free as hydrogen, electric, and other low-carbon fuels are used to power the machinery and equipment.

With the help of volunteers from nearby schools and community, Forestry England has already planted over 80,000 trees on the site, including species such as black poplar, oak, hazel and hornbeam. The species mix was developed with Forest Research, the UK’s principal organisation for forestry and tree-related research, taking account of the site geology, soil condition and climate, and will be professionally managed by Forestry England to ensure a healthy broadleaf woodland.

For over 100 years, Forestry England has been growing, shaping, and caring for the nation’s forests for the benefit and enjoyment of all, for this generation and the next. Forests are vital for the future of our planet. They store carbon, reduce flooding, and improve the health and wellbeing of everyone. With careful planning and management, the new Community Woodland at Hole Farm will continue to thrive, providing for people, nature and for climate.

Neil Kellet, Business Manager, Forestry England said:

“We are excited that the new community woodland coming to Hole Farm is taking this next important step. There’s going to be some great facilities to make it accessible to everyone in the local community and make it a great place to enjoy and boost people’s wellbeing. Tree planting is already well underway and with Planning Permission granted, we can now start the development of the access and educational facilities, and we look forward to welcoming the public from the Summer of 2025.”

Emily Dawson, Head of Benefits, Lower Thames Crossing, said:

"We're passionate about making a difference within our communities. That's why we’re transforming Hole Farm, a 100-hectare site in Great Warley in partnership with Forestry England, with up to 150,000 trees, rich new habitats for local wildlife and a community centre. We're also proposing two new parks Tilbury Fields and Chalk Park, with panoramic views of the River Thames, and around 40-miles of new or improved pathways for walkers, cyclists and horse riders across the route. These initiatives are just some of the ways National Highways will deliver wider benefits to the community, especially now, ahead of Lower Thames Crossing being built."

Cllr Barry Aspinell, Leader of Brentwood Borough Council, said:

“Planning Permission has been granted by Brentwood Borough Council that will see the creation of new community facilities at Hole Farm Woodland in Warley, where 150,000 trees are scheduled for planting.

"This is an amazing opportunity to engage with outside bodies in working towards fulfilling the aims set out in our climate emergency programme. The woodland is owned by National Highways who have leased it in perpetuity to Forestry England. We are looking forward to working with Forestry England to support their planting scheme and will ensure that local community engagement is a top priority

"National Highways have shared their plans for carbon reduction in all aspects of the proposed Lower Thames Crossing, and we look forward to working with them, and Forestry England in achieving our joint objectives."