Frequently Asked Questions
- Can I meet someone from your company at a wood I am interested in?
- How much will the legal process of buying the woodland cost me?
- Are there any annual charges?
- How long will it take to buy it?
- Can I build a house on my woodland?
- Can I build anything?
- Does anyone have the “right to roam” in the woodland I am buying?
- Will it be a good investment?
- What if I eventually want to sell my woodland?
Can I meet someone from your company at a wood I am interested in?
Yes, we are very keen to meet up, answer your questions and tell you what we know about the woodland, about its recent history and about the neighbours. We do ask that you have already seen the wood first on your own and that you give us a few days notice.
Evening meet-ups are possible in the summer and these work well if you are meeting up after work.
How much will the legal process of buying the woodland cost me?
It will cost about £5-700, in our experience. We have a list of solicitors and conveyancers that previous buyers have recommended. There is a small land registry charge for getting the title registered (about £40) but there is no stamp duty as long as the purchase price is below £150,000.
Are there any annual charges to pay?
Generally the answer is no, there are no annual charges: woodlands do not attract council tax or business rates or any other similar charge. The two exceptions to the rule of no annual charges are both small and unusual – where there are ground rents or drainage rates to pay.
In the rare cases where we are selling a long leasehold woodland there will be a small annual payment to the freeholder as these long leases were mainly set up in the 1950s and 1960s. The typical charge is under £10 per year.
In a few circumstances there are local agricultural land drainage charges to pay but these are generally very small (less than £50 per year is typical) and in return one actually gets something useful in return – a local internal drainage board keeping the rivers and drains working. This usually only applies to woodlands adjoining rivers and marshland and even so, there are many riverside woodland properties which are not within the area of an Internal Drainage Board. Main rivers are managed by the Environment Agency and so these do not attract any charges for the neighbouring owners.
How long will it take to buy it?
Your lawyer should be able to do it within 4 weeks but it sometimes takes up to 8 weeks. There are several things you can do to speed up the process. The main ones are to give your lawyer the purchase money early and specifically ask them to process the purchase speedily. For more information, read our guide to the legal process.
Can I build a house on my woodland?
Almost certainly not: you will not get planning permission. We have a very good article on planning in woodlands by Lucy Nichol.
Even in the exceptional cases of owners gaining permission to build houses in their woods these have occurred only where people worked their woodlands for many years and shown that this was their main source of income.
Can I build anything?
Yes, certain things, but only for forestry purposes. There is a notification process, requiring you to tell the local authority before you start. Many of our buyers have built forestry stores and some use these as shelters to store a variety of wood-related equipment.
Does anyone have the “right to roam” in the woodland I am buying?
Generally not, at least in England and Wales. Assuming that the woodland is not designated as common land on the commons register, it will not be covered by the new Right to Roam legislation. CRoW (the Countryside and Rights of Way Act) is in practice fully implemented now and it is unlikely significantly to change much the woodlands that people actually walk in. Our view is that neighbours – as long as they are polite and respectful – should be welcomed in as friends and will usually help with “caretaking” your woodland. We have more information on public access rights in Scotland.
Will it be a good investment?
We do not think these woods are likely to be a good investment from a timber-growing point of view. However, they do seem to us to be very good value in terms of the enjoyment one can get from them. Whether the woodland will show a good financial return probably depends not so much on timber growth as on whether demand for this sort of amenity woodland increases. We feel it should be seen as an “investment” where the dividend is the active enjoyment taken from the woodland.
What if I eventually want to sell my woodland?
You are totally free to sell your land at any time without reference to us, but we will try to help if we can and if you wish. In the last couple of years we have sometimes (a) bought woodlands back – usually at or above the price we sold them for (b) acted as agent for the vendor and in these cases we have always realised a profit for the vendor (so far!), (c) recommended agents who could help.