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Buying Woodland - what do we need to know?

(40 Posts)
stealthsquiggle Fri 19-Oct-12 15:23:32

We are contemplating buying a small (~3 acre) piece of woodland. We want it to play in, mostly, and to provide wood for us. It has a stream running through it, is a mix of conifers and older deciduous (sp?) trees and is next to a small road, so no access restrictions. It appears to have been untouched for some time.

What are the really obvious things that we need to know before going ahead? All MN expertise/experience would be very welcome....

lalalonglegs Fri 19-Oct-12 16:39:58

It sounds idyllic but I would worry about it being open access: would you need public liability insurance in case anyone were to be injured while walking across it by, say, a falling branch? Would their be any conservation obligations - protecting certain species on the site etc? And, I suppose if I'm honest, I'd want it to be mine so how would I feel if I rocked up there one day and found another family having a picnic or pitching a tent on it? (nb: I have no experience of owning woodland.)

stealthsquiggle Fri 19-Oct-12 16:47:26

It is fenced - you just don't have to go across anyone else's land to get to it, IYSWIM. It has a footpath running through it, but that doesn't mean other people can picnic or camp (we could do a "Gerrof our land" if they did), but I think you are right about the liability insurance - the legal pack, which we have just got, includes a copy of the current insurance, which appears to cost the princely sum of £90 per year.

lalalonglegs Fri 19-Oct-12 16:52:51

Oh well, in that case, I'd definitely get it. Sorry, I misunderstood and thought it was completely open. You'll have to maintain the fence of course...

stealthsquiggle Fri 19-Oct-12 16:57:46

grin I/we are currently getting much too excited about it, given that it is going to be auctioned and we have never been to, let alone bid at an auction before. A couple of people who have seen it have said it is not viable for someone looking to make money from selling the wood, which is good news for the price (we hope).

lalalonglegs Fri 19-Oct-12 17:01:01

Yay - just have it as a lovely fun retreat: a treehouse, some dens, campfires on warm nights, kicking through leaves in the autumn (I'm assuming you've got kids for all these things, if not, I'll bring mine grin). Good luck.

stealthsquiggle Fri 19-Oct-12 17:04:17

Damn - you need kids to do that stuff shock ??

<<checks>>

Yep. 2 of them. I expect we can recruit a few more if needed grin.

FishfingersAreOK Fri 19-Oct-12 18:08:07

My 2 have CVs up to date lying but hoping to scrabble something together v quickly can they be considered pleae

FishfingersAreOK Fri 19-Oct-12 18:09:55

Please {hanging head in shame}

TalkinPeace2 Fri 19-Oct-12 18:17:46

Woodlands can both be great fun (allowed to sleep on it 30 nights a year)
and a good investment - sell the coppicing rights
Auction is the way to go - unless you know any friendly local council tree officers who can tell you what is not yet on the market
the websites seem to overprice by a fair whack
so do NOT use them as a guide price.

When our mortgage is done in two years, that will be our next form of investment (not doing pensions) after ISAs

CMOTDibbler Fri 19-Oct-12 18:20:37

Sounds great - we own 5 acres of mixed woodland with the other residents of two roads, and the woodland needs very little maintenance. A brush cutter is v good for beating back the brambles which are the worst bit.
The kids love the rope swing over the ditch, making dens in the woods and generally mucking about in there.
The liability insurance is a must, just in case

stealthsquiggle Fri 19-Oct-12 19:14:57

Thanks, everyone. So, other than liability insurance, nothing we urgently need to do /learn?

Fishfingers - plenty of time to get CVs in order - we haven't bought it yet grin

Ponyofdoom Fri 19-Oct-12 19:32:41

If it has a river you might need to pay a fee to the Environment Agency/Drainage board..fences can be expensive to maintain, check the condition. If its in a rural area the local hunt may want to know whether they can use it.

TalkinPeace2 Fri 19-Oct-12 19:39:26

Ponyofdoom "the local hunt" - IMHO they can fuck right off.
They bred foxes to slash their pads and then catch them. (Master of our local hunt served time for that)

PrettyPrinceofDarkness Fri 19-Oct-12 19:46:54

Nothing to add other than envy

Wonders off to look for local land for sale.

PrettyPrinceofDarkness Fri 19-Oct-12 19:48:18

Oh and agree with talkinpeace that the local hunt can wedge it

Rhubarbgarden Fri 19-Oct-12 20:07:27

Very envy as was recently outbid when trying to buy a property that included a small woodland.

It might be worthwhile doing a woodland management course, or going on a working holiday with the National Trust or BTCV for a taster of what's involved. There is actually more to it than just happy gallumphing around.

stealthsquiggle Fri 19-Oct-12 20:27:00

Pony - thanks, I will check Environment Agency thing. Fences are largely ok, and the one unfenced boundary was being fenced today - footpath has a brand new gate on it. The hunt would go round it by choice, I think - it's quite overgrown and very easy to ride round.

I plan on signing DH up for a course - any recommendations?

Rhubarbgarden Fri 19-Oct-12 21:06:45

BTCV do good courses. Or if there is an agricultural/horticulture college near you it would be worth seeing what they offer.

Ponyofdoom Fri 19-Oct-12 22:11:06

Talkin, your post makes no sense. I have been involved in hunting for 20 odd years and never heard of that happening. There is no logical reason to do something like that anyway. Hounds follow scent not blood. Weird.

TalkinPeace2 Sat 20-Oct-12 10:07:51

ponyofdoom
An injured fox is easier to catch. New Forest Foxhounds. Its in the newspaper archives. But I suspect the pro hunting press did not cover it.

Any foxhound on any land I owned would be grabbed and taken for rehoming.

Daisybell1 Sat 20-Oct-12 20:17:06

Ok, you need to check a few things:

You say there's no public access but are there any paths/trails? Just because its not registered, doesn't mean the public aren't using it. Ask the vendor through your solicitor and do a s31.6 deposit with your local council footpaths team to protect yourself.

You will need public liability insurance, and will be expected to take steps to reduce any danger.

You will be responsible for the roadside trees - surveying them and making them safe. Have you had an assessment of the timber done? Would be worth it.

Check your rights of access - both normally, and also if you need to extract timber. You may also need felling licences so be prepared to speak to the forestry commission. They can also help with grant schemes though.

If you're planning on doing lots of camping etc, make sure you don't fall foul of planning regs. Check that your permitted dev rights are intact and that the council haven't revoked them.

Get your solicitors to check if any private rights, tpos, utilities etc on the land. And also make sure you get the sporting rights as you may get a shock one morning if not!

Sorry for the essay, am a land agent. Any more questions please ask.

stealthsquiggle Sat 20-Oct-12 23:55:33

<<falls on daisybell gratefully >>

Amazing I think I know the answer to most of that.

Sporting rights included with freehold
No services at all cross the plot
There is a footpath - marked, passable, and undisputed

Solicitors have seen searches, vendors declarations, etc and are happy.

Roadside is the access both normally and for timber extraction (would be a PITA if you were planning on clear-felling, but we're not)

Roadside trees are relatively small and sound. We have had a range of opinions on the rest - no great commercial value, but would keep us in firewood.

Felling licences, etc - we know we would need one, and a management plan - hence plans for a course somewhere.

Rough woodland, not viable for commercial timber - does a £5k/acre bidding limit sound reasonable to you?

Very many thanks for the advice - very much appreciated.

stealthsquiggle Sat 20-Oct-12 23:56:59

Oh and liability insurance - we have a copy of the current cover - £91 per annum for £20M cover

Toughasoldboots Sun 21-Oct-12 00:09:11

Talkinpeace2 is correct. The hunt is also not allowed on land that I own either. I despise them.

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