Hamsterley future plans
Forestry England manages the nation’s forests to be sustainable and resilient providing benefits for people, wildlife and the economy: nationally and locally. We constantly review the forests to see how those benefits could improve.
Hamsterley Forest has become more popular and while this benefits the rural economy and the wildlife is safeguarded, the facilities are under strain. We have plans to improve these visitor facilities in Hamsterley Forest.
In further developing our people, nature, economy offer the potential for an overnight accommodation offer within the Forest, located close to the existing visitor infrastructure has been assessed and approved internally in accordance with Forestry England policy guidance.
We have begun discussions with Forest Holidays, who are one of our long-term partners, to explore options for a site with up to 70 eco-sensitive cabins. In the last 50 years, we have created 8 sensitively-placed cabin sites in forests we care for.
What stage is it at?
We are at an early stage of the process. The Forestry England Board agreed to approve to grant the option for a lease to Forest Holidays on 4 February 2021. Forest Holidays have up to 3 years to carry out the relevant survey work to inform and work up the detailed plans for consultation. Any early surveys already completed by Forest Holidays have been completed to inform their opinion as to whether they would wish to take up any offer of an option to lease.
The Minister has granted the option to lease for Forest Holidays.
When will I be consulted?
All development plans would be subject to planning consents and public consultation so you will have the chance to give your thoughts and opinions when relevant information is ready to share.
At Forestry England, we intend to spend the next 6 months developing our plans around visitor facilities and upgrades to the site which can then be shared for consultation.
Current activity on site
Forest Holidays have begun topographical surveying (identifying and mapping surface features) within Hamsterley Forest to help inform their planning. Work begins 6 April and should last 2 weeks.
There should be no effect on forest users – although visitors to the forest are asked to respectfully keep their distance from surveyors in line with COVID-19 guidance. The work is being carried out by contractors.
Hamsterley forest is beginning a new and exciting journey so updates and information on this project including opportunities for future public engagement and consultation will be available here.
Read more information about our partnership with Forest Holidays.
Enquiries can be directed to FuturePlans.Hamsterley@forestryengland.uk