AN ancient woodland could be reopened to the public after a council took ownership of the site.

Bullock Wood, in St John’s, Colchester, has been acquired by Tendring Council.

The site off St John’s Close had been in private hands for hundreds of years and is fenced off.

But the council took it on last year after paying £1 as part of a planning deal with the developers of Avellana Place on the former Betts factory.

The developers in turn paid the council £18,084 as a contribution towards ongoing maintenance costs. 

For years residents have campaigned to have the wood opened to the public and managed by the community and nature experts.

They had been concerned about its future due to lack of maintenance and damage caused by trespassers.

Neil Stock, leader of Tendring Council, said he supported moves for public access to the wood.


But he said any access would be subject to agreement by Natural England which is against recreational use of the woods.

He said: “I am aware of the interest in opening up the wood to public access, and it is something I instinctively support, which is why I am asking officers to draw up proposals.

“We must be mindful that Bullock Wood is both ancient woodland and a Site of Special Scientific Interest which means that preservation of trees has to be a priority, and there is guidance from Natural England about the scale and extent of public access which should be permitted in order to protect the flora and fauna.

“Indeed, as part of the planning application process for the nearby development it was a stipulation from Natural England that public access would not be supported for informal recreational use, but that there could be some formal educational activities and a volunteer management group which form part of our management plan.

“We will review future options for the woodland, and once these options have been assessed then we will look to take a decision on the best way forward.”