Forest school future for Chantry Wood campsite

The Council's Executive agreed provisionally at their meeting on 8 January that Chantry Wood campsite in the Surrey Hills AONB (Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty), should accept further forest school use as well as closing the campsite to use by the general public.

The Council also agreed not to further develop plans to bring the campsite up to modern standards.

Chantry Wood campsite, which is owned and managed by the Council, has been run as a small site for schools, scouts and guides for over 50 years with some temporary forest school use, but is no longer economically viable. Bringing it up to today's standards would cost over £300,000. Making the barn a permanent base for a forest school to undertake activities on the campsite and in the woodland helps meet a number of aims in our Guildford Countryside Vision and our Play Strategy. The site will continue to remain open for public access and the Council will discuss with potential forest school providers on-going use by scouts, guides and Duke of Edinburgh schemes.

Cllr David Bilbe, Lead Cllr for Enterprise and Economic Development, says: "The provisional decision to lease the Chantry Wood campsite for forest school use will help provide a new educational facility and safeguard the site for future generations to enjoy. Forest schools help children to connect with nature and develop confidence and self-esteem through hands-on learning in a natural environment. We considered a number of options for the site and are confident this offers benefits for the whole community, with public access to the site maintained. However, we recognise that some residents have expressed concerns over the proposal so we will seek to address these by way of an informal local consultation."

The council will now develop the forest school proposal further, following the consultation, with a view to leasing the site later in 2019. The proposals include operation of up to 5 days a week for 8 to 24 children.

Published on Thursday 10 January.