28th April 2020

Ancient woodland protected for future generations

At a meeting last week, Bradford on Avon Town Council agreed to the purchase of local Historic Ancient Woodland, Becky Addy Wood on behalf of the community*. 

Becky Addy Wood is accessible by a right of way that parallels the canal and provides an alternate walking route to Avoncliff, and covers over 10 acres. It is home to many ancient and native species of trees andrare flora, as well as blankets of wild garlic and bluebells. It also provides vital natural habitat for protected local wildlife, including bats. 

The first recorded mention of the woodland is as far back as the 10thCentury – when it was offered as reward to Leofwine, a huntsman of Anglo-Saxon King Æthelred II.  A millennia later, it will now be back under the wing of the community. 

Following the wood’s listing for auction, the Council was approached by the Friends of Becky Addy Wood (FROBAW) to investigate whether it could support a purchase as a way of protecting habitat. 

A spokesperson from FROBAW said: 

“We are so pleased that Becky Addy Wood is going to be protected.  It’s a magical ancient woodland where history is recorded in the wonderful flora and its importance to wildlife – knowing that it will now be a nature reserve is such a relief to all the local people who find peace and tranquillity walking through the wood.  FROBAW are so grateful for the huge support, which has exceeded all  expectations.” 

Supported by the Town’s Environment and Planning committee earlier in April, FROBAW began fundraising and managed to raise a significant proportion of the purchase costs privately from residents across the area. This, alongside a donation from the Bradford on Avon Preservation Trust, allowed Town Councillors to commit an additional sum – and to have the Woodland removed from public auction. 

Following the meeting, Leader of the Council, Cllr Dom Newton said: 

“The Town Council has acted swiftly to support a largely community effort to assemble the majority of the funds needed to acquire and safeguard the future of Becky Addy Wood.  The decision recognises that, while our town boundary may end on a line on a map, our responsibility as custodians of green spaces that our residents use, in and around the town, does not.  We look forward to working with Friends of Becky Addy Wood and others to establish a management plan, to protect and nurture them for the future.” 

As well as planning for future conservation activity, the woodland is already used by hundreds of residents every year for walking, nature spotting and enhancing well-being. 

The purchase, which is now undergoing due diligence, will seek to provide permanent protection for the woodland, in partnership with FROBAW.   In addition, grants will be sought to protect and promote specific projects, while final management arrangements for the long-term future of the wood are established.  

(pictured Cllr Alex Kay & Cllr Dom Newton of Bradford on Avon Town Council)

Cllr Alex Kay, Chair of the Environment and Planning Committee said: 

“I am very proud and inspired to have worked with the community to acquire Becky Addy Wood. People from across the area, including Westwood, Turleigh, Avoncliff and Bradford on Avon, have united with one aim: to protect the wood in perpetuity. This fits in with efforts to tackle the  Climate Emergency and developing our Green Space Management Strategy which has maximising biodiversity at its very heart.  Becky Addy Wood is a beautiful stretch of woodland, full of wildflowers and birdsong. Along with all of our green spaces, it provides a place for those seeking solace and renewal, not just in the current circumstances, but long into the future.”

Photos by Lydia Booth Photography

Final costs of the project – (updated 26th June 2020)

*The total cost against the Town Council budget, including all legal elements, was £47,819.  The final Town Council contribution was £9,605.

This total excludes the administration time in setting up and managing the purchase, as well as ongoing management of the wood during this period.

Contributions to the purchase were as follows:

Friends of Becky Addy Wood collective donations:                    £30,000
BoA Town Council:                                                                                   £9,605
Preservation Trust:                                                                                  £3,000
Wiltshire Council Community Area Board (grant to Town Council): £5,000**
VAT reclaim                                                                                               £214

**retrospective grant