Update: We need to raise £27,500 in 9 months
It's encouraging news, but we need to get cracking if we're to actually Save Our Woods.
The woods were identified as a surplus to military requirements, and therefore were added to the list of disposals on 27th September 2018. It was then placed on the MODís database managed by the Government Property Unit within the Cabinet Office.
The interest on the open market expired on 8th March this year and the woods were then placed with an auctioneer to be sold at auction on the 1st May. We were only made aware of this by villager Lou Sleeman and my sister Maureen Denton in early April and due to the quick-thinking of Parish Councillor Tina Cole managed to speak to the auctioneer expressing our interested and the auction was put back until 29th May.
In this case, the previous owners of the site, the Rawlins family were not able to purchase it using the Crichel Downs Rules on Ownership because the site was purchased by the War Dept on 12th August 1897 and was therefore outside the timezones for which these rules apply.
I (Jackie Dryden) then engaged the support of our MP Claire Perry and asked her to intervene to help stop the auction and help us to either have the woods gifted or for us to purchase the woods for our Parish. Gifting was not an option and was stated so by MP Tobias Elwwood the Minister in control of the DIO.
Through negotiations between Tina, myself, Claire Perry, the DIO and the auctioneer, we have managed to be able to purchase the woods at market value (£27,500). If we raise 10% of the full payment and pay it before the auction deadline, the auction will stop and we will then have 9 months to fund raise.
We, the PC have agreed these terms and have now engaged the services of a local solicitor acting on our instructions.
The PC does not have the full amount asked for, but we are confident through pledges and fund raising, that we will raise the amount within the timescale. Just in case, we have been offered an interest free loan from a generous local benefactor.
We now would like to ask for the community to come up with ideas of fundraising (we have a few of our own) and the money raise will go into a separate account looked after by the PC.