Feedback about the Woodland Establishment Consultation is being analysed, with this being published later in the next few weeks. Whilst there has been positive comment, some respondents have raised questions, with the answers published to help everyone understand the details of the proposals to plant 3 new woodland areas within the borough.

Q1. What was the geographical scope of the consultation?

Whilst anyone could respond to the consultation, letters were sent to all residential addresses bordering the proposed sites, informing residents of the consultation and proposed plans. This also included residents living on Brownspring and Domonic Drive, with these streets within the Royal Borough of Greenwich.

Q2. Some concerns were raised in relation to the proposed viewing platform, regarding the potential invasion of privacy for residents and the nearby schools, as well as the possibility of attracting anti-social behaviour.

The proposal for a viewing platform only becomes relevant when the woodland is more established, given that in the initial years, these planted woodlands would not be accessible to members of the public, with the viewing platform shown on the plan for awareness. If the planting scheme proposal does go ahead, it is envisaged that there would be consultation with local people at the point that the woodland is made publicly accessible and consultation about a viewing platform would be part of this.

Q3. Some feedback suggests that access to the Woodlands by the public should be restricted.

The sites would remain publicly inaccessible for a minimum period of 5 to 8 years while the trees establish. The design of the Chislehurst Woodlands considers the possibility of eventual public access, subject to further consultation, although they could potentially remain permanently private. If the sites were to be opened to the public, accessibility requirements would be considered. There are currently no plans for the Chelsfield site to become publicly accessible.

Q4. I provided my contact details during the consultation to potentially join a Woodland Friends Group, which would help care for the trees and the area. If the woodlands remain private, will these groups still be formed?

Yes, it is hoped so. If the woodlands remain private, volunteers will still be needed to assist with planting and managing the trees. The council will endeavour to support the formation of these groups where possible.

Q5. Allowing dog walkers access to the site could negatively affect the development of the Woodland Establishment.

Access to the sites for the public has not been confirmed; they will remain inaccessible to the public for at least 5 to 8 years while the trees establish. Should the sites be made publicly accessible in the future, consultation will take place at that point, including whether dog walking should be permitted.

Q6. As my property backs onto the Edgebury site, I'm worried about the potential obstruction of my view over time.

Trees will not be planted directly up to the boundaries on any of the sites and therefore visibility will be maintained. A buffer zone of scrubland at the edges will also be included, transitioning gradually into mature trees. Along property boundaries, shrubs with low canopy heights will be planted to preserve existing light levels.

Q7. What impact will the establishment of the trees have on flooding to my property?

As the sites have been used for grazing for many years, the ground has become quite compacted and therefore surface runoff has increased which has increased the risk of flooding and contributed to flooding of a number of nearby properties. The design plans include tree species which can withstand high water tables and will naturally soak up some of the water on the sites.

Q8. What about happens to the meadowland?

As part of the proposals, meadowland is being enhanced and retained, with woodland planting also forming part of the landscape. As this planting proposal would be subject to the successful outcome of a grant application to the Forestry Commission, woodland has to be prominent, with the woodland planting helping to mitigate surface flooding risks to nearby properties. It is hoped the remaining grassland areas can be improved in support of meadowlands.

Q9. Will plans affect wildlife, such as bats and owls, that are located on site?

The council aims to maximise support for local wildlife. Consequently, the final designs will consider the incorporation of bat boxes and nesting boxes for birds.

Q10. Should the sites not become accessible to the public in the future, will the woodland pathways (rides) be removed?

If the sites continue to be closed to the public, the woodland pathways will be retained in the design, as they also serve as natural fire breaks. The final design of the rides will be confirmed following feedback received throughout the consultation period.

Q11. How will the Woodlands be maintained?

As the woodlands mature, they will become self-sustaining with minimal upkeep necessary. Any occasional maintenance needs can be arranged through the council's current maintenance contractor. Upon establishment, a maintenance plan will be devised and incorporated into the council's existing maintenance agreements. The England Woodland Creation Offer (EWCO) grant provides up to £300 per hectare annually for ten years to assist with maintenance expenses. Additionally, the council will coordinate with the Woodland Friends Group once formed to explore opportunities for voluntary maintenance assistance.

Q12. Queries were raised in relation to boundary improvements and security arrangements.

Existing security arrangements would remain in place. As the establishment plans develop, additional thought will be given to appropriate boundary enhancements, including security measures, for the existing fencing around the site. The England Woodland Creation Offer (EWCO) grant includes an allowance for items infrastructure items such as fencing. Currently, there are no intentions to remove the existing brambles near the properties on Brownspring Drive.