Group aims to turn pasture into woods

PUBLISHED: 09:25 23 April 2009 | UPDATED: 21:45 31 May 2010

Ken McDonald (far right) and supporters at the site  Picture: MICHAEL BOYTON (MEB_220409_Forest Land)

Ken McDonald (far right) and supporters at the site Picture: MICHAEL BOYTON (MEB_220409_Forest Land)

A COMMUNITY group is pushing ahead with an ambitious project to buy a 21-acre piece of land with a view to turning it into woodland. The rough pasture land at the south-east of Pesterford Bridge, just outside Stansted Mountfitchet came onto the market ear

A COMMUNITY group is pushing ahead with an ambitious project to buy a 21-acre piece of land with a view to turning it into woodland.

The rough pasture land at the south-east of Pesterford Bridge, just outside Stansted Mountfitchet came onto the market earlier this month at a guide price of £100,000.

Now the group of residents, which is currently about 30 strong, is keen to seize the opportunity and enhance a significant area of countryside.

Group spokesman Ken McDonald said: "Pieces of land don't come up for sale very often.

"It is early days but, if we are successful, the land will be held for the benefit of the local community.

"There is a lot could be achieved with it - it doesn't have to be woodland, it could be used for such things as allotments or forest farming."

An unknown bidder is understood to have already submitted an offer for the land, so the race is on for the group to raise as much money as possible to at least be in a position to negotiate.

Mr McDonald said he should know if the project is a real possibility within the next few days.

"Over £20,000 has been pledged in individual commitments, whilst others have committed in principle," he said. "We're now looking for additional support from people prepared to contribute finance, muscle or expertise, or a combination of these."

Stansted and Birchanger parish councils, Essex County Council and Uttlesford District Council have all been approached with a view to getting involved with the project.

The group is also hoping to set up a Community Interest Company, a relatively new form of legal entity that combines the features of a limited company with controls to ensure the enterprise is working for the benefit of the community, should the majority of funds come from private contributors.

Mr McDonald said: "This is a totally different way of handling things and allows an individual or group to invest energy and money into a community project and having some say in how it operates."

A meeting has been arranged at the Day centre, Crafton Green, Stansted Mountfitchet on Sunday April 26 at 7.30pm. Anyone interested in the project should feel free to attend.

Mr McDonald would also be happy to discuss details of the project with interested parties. He can be contacted on 01279 813226 or by email at Teskey@btinternet.com

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