Since the opening sequence of Gladiator was shot here in 1999, Bourne Wood has now become an iconic filming location both locally and internationally. Being the destination of choice for small shoots such as one off commercial photo shoots for adverts and larger TV drama productions, alongside being a site of national significance to the UK Film & TV industry with a number of feature films using the site for filming activities, including various Harry Potter films (2009-2011) and more recently Wonder Woman (2017).
It’s unrivalled in terms of location, being under one hour from the film studios in the South East of England, and it provides temporary build space for big budget productions including cinematic views that are not overlooked by development, power lines or other modern infrastructure. In particular, the bowl area of the site has often been used as it is surrounded by mature pines screening the area from the road and neighbouring properties. It can also double for features set in other countries. In doing so, the wood is delivering economic benefit at a national and international level through its contribution to the film industry, and furthermore at a local level directly into the viability of the site for management and forestation and through spending on local businesses. As such, Forestry England have extensive knowledge in using forests for a variety of uses and the wood has remained a beautiful place for local residents to walk and enjoy the area.
Building upon the previous planning permission, we are now seeking a new scheme that will allow the site to continue to be sustainably managed by Forestry England, balancing the local economic and social benefits seen from filming, with the environmental management commitments that they undertake. The proposed embedded mitigation approach will allow this use to be undertaken in a well-managed and consolidated manner enabling the different types of filming operations to take place with greater ease and clearer management and control whilst also, taking into consideration the popularity of the area for walking and the interests of local residents. It is for these reasons that Forestry England is seeking a change of use permission to continue using the woodland for filming purposes, as well as forestry.
Forestry England cares for the many different aspects of Bourne Wood and this new planning application has been prepared by independent experts, in accordance with good practice and we hope it will be carefully reviewed by the statutory consultees as part of the planning process. Various technical and planning considerations relevant to the new scheme have been fully assessed as part of the application including economic, green belt location, landscape and visual community effects, traffic and transport, ecology and protected areas, air quality, historic environment and flood risk and utilities.
Forestry England manages land for conservation, timber production, heritage and for people to enjoy. It’s a non-profit making organisation and money raised from filming goes towards maintaining hundreds of miles of footpaths and many car parks, together with other projects which are less visible but equally as important, such as monitoring tree health and enhancing habitats for wildlife across England.
This proposal is supported by both local and national local planning policies as well as other relevant strategies. This highlights the need to have a permission in place, to make sure filming can be managed appropriately in a way that has been agreed by the relevant authorities.