Cash-strapped council to sell off Highwoods?

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A cash-strapped council is looking to sell off some of its land, including woodland in Bexhill.

Rother District Council has announced its intentions to off-load the 87 acre Highwoods on Peartree Lane and St Mary’s Wood in St Mary’s Lane.

The 2.01 acre St Mary’s Wood was due to be auctioned on May 9.

But following legal advice, Rother decided to withdraw the lot from sale.

Earlier this month the Ellerslie Area Residents Association announced its intention to raise funds to buy the woods from the council to keep it in the community.

St Mary’s has a restrictive covenant on it meaning it must be kept as an ancient woodland.

Similar restrictions are in place for Highwoods.

A 15 acre piece of land, including a former railway track, open space/grass and woodland off Ninfield Road/Crowhurst Road, could also be put up for sale.

A spokesperson for Rother District Council said: “Following the sale of four parcels of land at auction in May, we have given notice of our intention to dispose of further sites.

“Residents have until July 1 to put any objections in writing, which will be shared with Cabinet when they make a decision on the next steps in September.

“The notices include Highwoods in Peartree Lane, Bexhill.

“Rother’s Cabinet currently would only allow a sale to the High Woods Preservation Trust to preserve the woodland for public enjoyment.

“We have been in discussions with the trust and have also extended those discussions to other potentially suitable organisations, who may be willing to take on the freehold and maintain the woodland for public use.

“The outcome of these discussions will be reported to Cabinet.

“As we continue to face severe financial pressures, we need to ensure that we make the most of our limited resources.

“Disposing of land, which costs the taxpayer money to maintain, will enable us to divert funds to protect vital council services.

“Full details of the sites and how to register objections can be found at www.rother.gov.uk”

Land at Rye Harbour, an area of open space in Wish Road in Rye and a 30 acre area of woodland and field in Fairlight could also be sold off.

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