Springhill Woods, Neilston

Welcome to my information page about Springhill Woods.

I am interested in buying a small piece of woodland near Glasgow city centre to:

  1. Save some land from housing and building development, and keep it ‘wild’
  2. Use it for escape from the city and wild camping
  3. Run some part-time forest school sessions for children and adults on it

The piece of wood I’ve been to see which I’m interested in has particulars that can be found here:

https://www.woods4sale.co.uk/assets/files/PDF/springhill-wood-renfrewshire.pdf

And most of it’s info is on the seller’s website too:

https://www.woods4sale.co.uk/woodlands/scotland/1087.htm

You can see a video about my visit here:

https://www.instagram.com/stories/highlights/18096565345011087/

Screen Shot 2019-09-10 at 13.00.03

My thoughts around this woodland and a potential collective purchase are as follows…

This is a very small site, which is bounded by a road on one side and three other woodland plots on the other four sides, so when you are in it, it doesn’t feel that small. There is a hard track on the north east side of the site, which leads to a lockable gate, which we’d share access for the other three woods. In terms of it’s location, it’s an 8 minute drive to Newton Mearns main strip of shops, which includes an M&S. There is farmland surrounding it, and I drove past two new housing developments on the Barrhead side of the M77 which are close to the site but not within walking distance of the wood. Ultimately I believe it’s far enough away from housing that we’d not have any bother with vandalism.

Despite being small, it’s got a varied mix of species of tree and shrub, holly, rowan, larch, beech, spruce, a yew(?), and all the usual grassy ground cover type plants too. It’s suitable for forest school type sessions, and indeed any type of foraging, woodland therapy, nature connection, or nature immersion and wellbeing sessions, so there is potential to market the woods as a location/venue to herbalists, and outdoor practitioners who live in the city.

As a forest school leader myself, I see it being used one or two days a week, maximum through the year, for forest school type sessions. We could easily bus children and teachers from schools, especially Glasgow Southside schools, run forest school sessions involving nature identification, shelter building, rope swings and pulley systems, fire lighting and management, and take them back into the city within the school day. It’s only a 20minute drive from 6 schools I know of in and around my postcode. There will be many more schools with PEF funding that I do not know of yet, there is definitely opportunity for this model. I am already applying for charity funding to do these sessions within Glasgow City Council locations, it’d be easy enough to incorporate this wood as a location.

In terms of management long-term, as a part owner, I would be willing and capable of managing the woodland for regular use, and this is what my forest school leader qualification has trained me to do. I am building a network of colleagues in Glasgow who will be able to provide us advice and services such as felling or clearing or management of invasive species should we need it, which makes me a good person for you to buy a woodland with! Most of you know me really well, and know I am super responsible and like getting down to the facts of things, so will research projects thoroughly and find a way to get the best result for everything and everyone involved. It’s the way I operate.

Also, if for any reason I can’t do that, I’ve had a look about and it would be possible for owners to employ a woodland manager type company for a monthly fee, and I would also probably suggest asking a few of my forest school leader type friends if they would manage it if I wasn’t around to do that. To help you get an idea, I imagine I/that person will be spending about 8-16 hours a month on

  • visiting the site,
  • checking for mis-use,
  • mapping/planning wood/resources to come out,
  • updating the sustainable use document (I’m happy to make it in first instance),
  • communicating with owners about the woods,
  • communication with third parties about use
  • managing income from third parties(? it’s probably best to set up it’s own bank account)

So, with that said, I should say some things about what this site is not, and what we can’t do. The transferors (woodlands.co.uk) have this in place:

Restrictive covenants by the Transferees:

1. The Transferees so as to bind the Property and each and every part of it into whosoever hands it may come but not so as to be personally liable for any breach or breaches of any restrictive covenant arising after the Transferees have parted with all interest in the Property jointly and severally covenant with the Transferors for the benefit of the Transferors’ Retained Land and each and every part of it:

(a) that the Property shall not be used in such a way as to create a nuisance to the neighbouring owners including the Transferors and specifically the Transferees shall not:

(i) use the Property for any sort of racing whether with motorcycles car or other vehicles; or

(ii) use the Property as a commercial campsite; or

(iii) unreasonably damage the said tracks.

(iv) park any motor vehicle, nor erect any gate, fence, barrier or hedge, or otherwise obstruct or allow any obstruction to any reserved track.

(b) not to dispose of part or parts only of the Property whether by sale, lease, gift, charge or otherwise.

Also, these types of land will not/highly unlikely receive any planning permission for any building structure from the council (East Renfrewshire). Which means temporary only, and at a push. I believe we could get away with a yurt, for 9 months of the year, which we could use for sleeping over and for storing a bit of replaceable kit, however, I’d want to keep this as low profile as possible, I wouldn’t support air bnbing it! I would think of it more like a ‘nice shed’. In fact a shed would be fine too. I also think we could get two or three small van campers on the track, overnight for one or two nights if we wanted to have a celebration or two through the year. There are a couple places in the woods for tents too. In forest school we use foldaway toilets in toilet tents, so I would run any day time sessions with those, and any owner/campers would need to do the same or bury that shit deep.

In terms of costs, I do think it’d be wise to think about having a monthly income for it, even if it’s just a £10 a month, to create a bit of a cushion for when things need done. I also mention in the video that there’s a couple ‘stems’ that can come down, and could generate a bit of income straight away. I have no idea how to do this, but I know a couple people who do, and I believe we could have a few hundred in the bank pretty quickly to make that ‘cushion’. In terms of that kind of thing, I’m totally up for transparency, and sharing financial information, and ultimately I’m thinking we could make a small constituted group with a secretary, a treasurer and a chair so that we can operate in a more formal way, and keep communication clear between us all. That way we can operate a separate bank account, and the group can ‘own’ the woods collectively. Dare I say it now, but it does open us up to making bids for funding, even small pots of funding are available to constituted groups which could be used for camping parties, buying a bit of kit such as hand tools and shelters, and also running costs such as my time as site manager or for Treasurer/Secretary/Chair.

Even if it turns out that only two of us go in for this, I still think we should set up a constituted group so we are clear from the start on how we operate and why.

I asked my solicitor Lynne at Lindsays if she did woodlands, and she’s passed me on to her colleague Lewis Crofts in Lindsays, Edinburgh office, who’s quoted £1000 to act on my/our behalf for this sale. He’s sent me land registry docs relating to the sites around it, so you can see who owns them, and I’ve saved them in here:

https://drive.google.com/drive/folders/1EDlXnh-jy2ie9Oz1L9Ji8D24VMTbciEH?usp=sharing

Slightly alternatively, I do think there’s an opportunity to crowdfund these options

  • Total purchase of the woods by a group of people, who would all become members of a constituted group and have voting rights on what happened to the woods.
  • A permanent ‘forest school’ that offered regular sessions in these woods and at other sites around it, run by me as an individual or the constituted owner group.
  • Both the above

As an owner, you should look at the responsibilities we will have for the woods, and what we’re inheriting in the titles on the Gdrive, but it’s possible we would need to pay for

  • regular maintenance, anything from £0 – £100 a month total?
  • hard track maintenance or reinstitution (see titles?)
  • no tax as far as I can see

In terms of what I would expect you to get from these woods as an owner

  • Priority on wild camping reservations any time of year (you can do this anyway! I would encourage you to go see it at least)
  • Voting rights on any range of activity that might happen on the woods, eg. tree felling, hard track maintenance, use by third party paying groups etc.
  • Free or discount forest school sessions year round for your children – I’d be happy to plan this into how we operate.
  • View of financial operations
  • Regular/monthly update from site manager/me on what’s happening

That’s it from me right now. If you can’t see the video, please tell me and I will make it available in another format. This is a great wee woods, and a fab little conservation project, with lots of opportunity to make connections with neighbouring owners and find out what they’d like from the site. If you are still interested, let me know your thoughts and if you have any questions. I’d encourage you to think about?

What do you want from a site like this?

What are you doing this for?

What would you do if you wanted your money back out? How would we manage that?

Who are you going to bring to the site?

What can you bring to the management of this little woods?

How long would you expect to be involved/ have your money in it?

Would you rather/consider we have it as a time limited project and then we all agree to sell? Eg. run it as a 5 or 10 year project, and design in some get out points? And have a final sale time?

Are you interested in building anything there? Bat boxes? Or working on it? Felling etc?