The majority of Barley Mow Woods was bought by local residents and now managed by Woodland Trust so that we can all enjoy it. However 1.2 acres that residents were unable to buy is now on the market and could be developed.
Between 1870 and 1896 the Waterer Family of Knaphill Nurseries laid out the farmland as a nursery within the ring bounded by the lanes of Barley Mow and Barr. In Barley Mow a grid-work of paths was laid out especially on the western side, some of which respected the original field boundaries, some of which go back to 1790’s, but other paths cut a cross them. Groups of trees such as Yews and Redwoods in the extreme south west of the site follow the lines of some of the paths.
Woodland Trust & the good people of Knaphill
In 1992 the woods were bought by residents of Knaphil through local fund raising because the woods were under threat of becoming a site for travelling people. On buying the land it was passed to the Woodlands Trust to manage on behalf of the residents. More details of the woods can be found on the Woodland Trusts web site woodlandtrust.org.uk. Once in the site enter Barley Mow Woods into the search engine. Along with more information and some superb photographs you will find a map that clearly shows the land that is under the control of the Trust and the land that is now for sale. Another useful web site is exploringsurreyspast.org.uk.
Land for Sale
A local resident contacted the KRA to say that a for sale sign had been erected at the junction of Barley Mow Lane and Chobham Lane. The resident had contacted the estate agent whose name appeared on the board. The information that came back was that at the time of the sale of the land to residents in 1992 the person who owned this plot refused to sell. It is believed that the owner once owned Barley Mow house. We were later informed by the estate agent that the sale of the land was progressing. In the 7th December edition of Surrey Homes & property a resident came across a notice for an auction sale. The auctioneers are Barnard Marcus and in their sale scheduled for 18th December they are advertising a piece of land, ‘beautiful setting for this 1.15 acre woodland site fronting, with access via Barley Mow Lane Freehold with vacant possession. Guide £25.000 to £35,000.
The entry in the auctioneer’s catalogue contains the following paragraphs;
The property comprises a parcel of land extending to approximately 1.15 acres currently mainly laid to wood with a mix of species. The site benefits from a significant road frontage along Barley Mow Road.
Whilst offered on an unconditional basis the site may hold future potential maybe for development of an eco-style house or similar or simply a peaceful retreat within easy access of Central London’.
We cannot stop the owner of this piece of land selling it to the highest bidder. What we can try to do is to protect our landscape, including our woods. It would be wrong for anyone being given planning permission or the right to clear this part of the Wood. There is very little the Knaphill Residents’ Association can do on its own. In the short term we have suggested to Woking Borough Council that a Tree Protection Order (TPO) is placed on the whole of Barley Mow Woods. The Woodland Trust web site states that a TPO is already in place, but it is unclear whether this TPO is up to date and whether it covers the whole of the woods. Secondly, and a project that will take much longer ask Woking Borough Council to examine the idea of extending the conservation area that exists close by. Where Barrs Lane meets Littlewick Road an area that contains a number of listed buildings is a conservation area. Close to the land that is for sale there are two listed properties, both houses going back to the 17C. It is not only important that we retain these historic buildings but also the setting in which the houses stand.
The woods are enjoyed by many of the local residents and it is hoped that future generations will be able to enjoy this part of the village.