Hole Farm

Artist impression of Hole Farm

New woodland in Essex

Creating a new community woodland

Hole Farm, near Brentwood in Essex, is a 100 hectare site where we’ll be planning, planting and managing a new community woodland in partnership with National Highways.

Our vision for Hole Farm is to create a multi-purpose woodland which will become an inspiring place for people to visit and explore, a thriving wildlife habitat and a source of sustainable timber.

This ties in with Forestry England and National Highways shared vision to “deliver a legacy of inspirational multi-purpose forest creation projects that will enhance and integrate the Lower Thames Crossing landscape for the environment and wellbeing."

Follow the story of our new woodland here.

Artists impression of visitor facilities at Hole Farm, showing two buildings with grass and trees

Latest news from Hole Farm

Planning permission has now been granted to provide the proposed infrastructure and facilities for visitors at this new community woodland, including a network of surfaced paths, cafe, community room and other community facilities.

The 100-hectare site is being developed as part of National Highways Lower Thames Crossing project and will become home to around 150,000 new trees and will provide homes for wildlife from mammals to invertebrates and birds to fungi.

The plans for the green space were designed and developed with the needs of local people in mind, with feedback from local people incorporated into the final planning application, which was given approval through the process of an Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) for afforestation. The consent given by Brentwood Borough Council now clears the way for work to start on the infrastructure and facilities. 

    Next steps

    Work is expected to start on the new facilities in 2024, and open to the public in summer 2025.

    These facilities include:

    • a cafe
    • a community room.
    • visitor shelter.
    • tree nursery.
    • a network of footpaths and new access points.
    • a network of ponds.
    • visitors' car park.

    Constructing the new facilities will embody National Highways’ commitment to using a local workforce and pushing the boundaries of low-carbon construction. The work will be carried out by small and medium-sized businesses from within 20 miles of the woodland, and the site will be diesel-free as hydrogen, electric, and other low-carbon fuels are used to power the machinery and equipment.

    Working together with the local community

    We sent questionnaires to 7,000 households in the surrounding area to gauge people’s opinions of the project and to hear what they would like to see, do and experience at Hole Farm community woodland.

    We held four follow-up virtual workshops with the local community to discuss the four main themes of the project: community and recreation, design and delivery, nature and biodiversity and access, traffic and public rights of way. People shared a wide range of views and we were able to explore these further during drop-in days, which included guided tours of the proposed community woodland.

    We used the information gathered to develop Hole Farm's woodland design and held our final consultation drop-in days in Great Warley on 2 and 3 September 2022.

    A small crowd of people wearing warm outdoor clothing stand in a group with tree planting equipment

    Hole Farm community planting days

    Thank you to everyone who joined us for our planting days at Hole Farm this year, helping to lay the roots of this new Community Woodland.

    Over 80,000 trees have now been planted on the site, including species such as black poplar, oak, hazel and hornbeam. The species mix was developed with Forest Research, the UK’s principal organisation for forestry and tree-related research, taking account of the site geology, soil condition and climate.

    Another 70,000 are due to be planted next season. If you’d like to get involved please keep an eye out for dates next winter.

    Credit: Highways England

    For further information and contact details please visit the National Highways website.

    More information

    Bright blue sky above open field
    Read our Hole Farm frequently asked questions.
    Close up of boot planting small tree
    How we're growing the nation's forests.
    Bedgebury National Pinetum nursery South esk pine seedlings in air pots Callitris oblonga
    Discover how we grow our future forests from seed.
    Child and grandparent playing on a log in the forest
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