Friends of Coombe Wood

Coombe Wood — Recent Events

This page gives a review of the most recent efforts of the Friends of Coombe Wood to establish the wood north of the stream as a Village Green. The information is mostly taken from the most recent Friends’ Newsletters.

Fence along bridleway 58 — Autumn 2023

A few years ago, the then owner of the land beyond the last house in Coombewood Drive erected a fence along the boundary of his property. This ran alongside Bridleway 58 (from Coombewood Drive south-west towards Rhoda Road North) and then south-east alongside Bridleway 88. However, this fence encroached onto land that was designated as part of the Village Green, and was also covered by an Article 4 Directive. Both of these designations prevent any encroachment by fencing. This was pointed out to the owner, but he maintained that he was fencing his land. The Friends of Coombe Wood asked the Council to require the owner to move the fence, but after much negotiation, they did not do so.

More recently, the land was sold to a new owner who was not aware of these directives. After much negotiation, the Friends agreed with the owner where the boundary fence should lie and he has moved the fence running alongside bridleway 58 (from Coombewood Drive to Rhoda Road North) back to the agreed boundary.

Encroachment from the property on the London Road — Summer 2023

The owners of the property halfway up the Bread-and-Cheese Hill had moved their fence along their eastern and northern boundaries to enclose an area of the village green. The Friends had pointed out to them that this was an infringement of both the Village Green and Article 4 Directives, but they had declined to move it. The Council had issued an Enforcement Order requiring them to move the fence back, but they appealed to the Planning Inspectorate against this. The Friends and other individual members wrote to the Planning Inspectorsate against this appeal.

In August, the Planning Inspectorate ruled against the appeal, and the owners have agreed a schedule with the Council for them to move the fence back to its original position.

New Noticeboard — Spring 2020

I can report as chairman that we have managed to fix a new notice board at the north west entrance to the wood at the corner of the graveyard. We were helped with this by a fencing firm who gave their services free of charge. This came about when we had finished preparing the notice board and discovered that it was very heavy and since we had used concrete spurs this time to prevent the posts rotting it was all rather difficult to see how we could manage to transport it and fix it up and especially to dig holes through the soil with the many roots. I noticed a man in Kenneth Road digging holes through really tough ground which included roots and fixing up a very neat fence and when I asked him if he might help, he said that he would. He came with the boss of his firm and carried the heavy notice board and the concrete spurs to the wood and then dug the holes and concreted them in. I told them as a reward for their kindness I would give them a mention in a newsletter. They are a firm at Eastwood, SGT Carpentry and Building, and the photo below shows the noticeboard being erected with one of their workers assisted by Terry Isherwood.

From Newsletter number 40

Bluebells and Bramble Pulls — Summer 2019

BluebellsCoombe Wood Village Green has become one of the
 best local bluebell walks. The clear stands of
 bluebells look best where they are unobstructed by
 fallen trees and overgrowing brambles (above).
Some of the best stands have been improved by the
 pulling up of Bramble Pulling brambles during winter, a procedure 
introduced by the late Terry Russell who took on so 
much work to secure the second Village Green 
registration. The picture (right) shows Terry 
Isherwood pulling out the brambles and carrying off
 the piles to a suitable place for rotting down in
another area of the wood. This is one of the 
techniques used by Essex Wildlife Trust to maintain
their beautiful stands of bluebells in Pound Wood. A very good friend, the late Terry Welch helped the
 current Chairman improve one the best bluebell
 areas, marked by John as Bluebell Dell on the maps.

This area has become all but impassable through 
falling trees and much overgrowth of Cherry Laurel,
 a garden escape. It is hoped we can map suitable areas for further bramble pulls and, with hopefully
 younger and fitter supporters, reintroduce this

Fallen Trees – Summer 2019

Fallen TreeAny visitor to Coombe Wood will notice the large 
number of fallen trees. This of course is an entirely 
natural process and allows in light and provides 
habitats for the woodland flora that would be 
competed out if there were no such natural clearings
 at all. But in Coombe Wood, especially in the most
 ancient southernmost part it could be argued that
some tidying up would benefit wildlife as well as
 making the wood more attractive. Fallen trees provide an essential habitat for many insects whose
 larvae become an important food source for birds 
and other woodland dwellers. But the habitat could 
be maintained by the arrangement of the fallen 
timber in places were they could still perform their 
natural role in the woodland ecology and yet permit
us to maintain a more attractive landscape for 
walkers. Some fallen trees have already been moved
 because they were an obstruction to the bridleway 
and main paths. Essex County Council has powers
 to manage the bridleways in this way and have 
asked Friends of Coombe Wood to offer help on 
occasion. Fallen trees can be an obstruction for a 
long time. In Thundersley Glen some of the trees
that came down in the 1987 storm have still not 
rotted away. You will have already seen in the 
introduction that the Friends of Coombe Wood are
 giving their attention to this issue. If there are any 
legally minded folk who would like to advise us
 they are encouraged to become members.

More Fencing Proposed May–June 2016

A recent planning proposal (16/0146/FUL Replace fencing to boundary  | Land West Of Silver Birch Lake Drive Thundersley Benfleet Essex SS7 3EE) included a map of the area that the applicant proposed fencing. Much of this was the area at present fenced by a rather decrepit post and wire fence to the east of the main bridleway and to the north of the newly designated bridleway leading to the pond.This included several designated plots, but Plot 5 on his map extended beyond the bridleway into the designated Village Green. Various members of the Friends wrote raising objections, and the planning officers recommended rejecting that part. Despite this, the Council planning committee approved the application in full. The applicant is reported to have agreed not to fence plot 5, so the Village Green is secured.

Much of the Fence now Removed

The owner of the northermost part of Coombe Wood, adjacent to the Church and the Churchyard, has agreed to the removal much of the fence. This includes the southern fence, dividing his land from the main part of the wood, and the western fence, adjacent to St Peter’s Graveyard.

With the owners agreement, members of the Friends of Coombe Wood have removed the fence panels from the southern part and both the panels and posts from the graveyard boundary.

This now means that the local community can now readily access the wood from the graveyard and the main part of the wood, although the northern fence still remains, restricting access from the north.

There are some photographs of this part of the wood in the Diary section of this site. (The link is in the panel to the left.)

Note that this information will also be incorporated into the Village Green Two page. It is included here so that regular visitors can easily find the most recent information on this. The small flyout when you hover over the Recent link on the Navigation bar (on other pages) at the left gives the most recent date.