The days when living in a house in the woods was strictly for the Three Bears or reclusive backwoodsmen are well and truly over.
Research by property advisers LRG shows homes located within 50 metres of woodland attract a 6 per cent premium.
And in some places — around Bournemouth, County Durham and North East Lincolnshire — that figure rises to 15 per cent.
Branch out: A cottage near Exmoor National Park in Somerset. Research by property advisers LRG shows homes located within 50 metres of woodland attract a 6% premium
‘It’s largely down to the pandemic and the working from home that followed,’ says Tim Foreman, managing director at LRG.
‘Having spent so much time cooped up indoors, people appreciate the benefits of being outside, surrounded by nature for their wellbeing.’
When Steve Hunt built his dream house in 2007, he had found the perfect location to site it: alongside Micheldever Woods in Hampshire.
Working with architect Huw Thomas, he created an arts-and-crafts-style house which blends in with the backdrop of trees.
‘I love having the woods so close’, says Steve, 62, a retired builder. He is now selling the five-bedroom house for £2,250,000. ‘The ever-changing canvas of the seasons, from the shoots of spring through to the bareness of the trees in winter, is fascinating.’
Yet having woodland nearby doesn’t only help to sell high-end homes — trees are also changing modern housing developments.
The days when you could build a house with only a 10 ft x 5 ft garden as open space will soon be over
‘The Environment Act, which will become law next year, stipulates that every new home must have access to a substantial community woodland or country park,’ says Ananya Banerjee, head of design and planning for Boyer.
‘The days when you could build a house with only a 10 ft x 5 ft garden as open space will soon be over.’
Giant house-building companies such as Barratt Homes have bought into this philosophy. The company recently launched The Woodlands, Broad Oak, in Kent, a collection of two, three and four-bedroom homes with ancient woodland on its borders.
It is a haven for wildlife, with everything from bird and bat boxes to hedgehog highways. Prices start from £309,995.
Meanwhile, Bewley Homes is building three and four-bedroom homes at Ash Lodge Park, in Ash, near Guildford, priced between £510,000 and £545,000.
The houses are a one-minute walk from the woods of the Christmas Pie Trail, a disused railway line surrounded by woodland, which is very popular with walkers.
‘We have only a small garden but having the woods nearby makes up for it,’ says company director Ben Parkinson, 47.
‘My daughter goes cycling there; it’s fun for the dog and I like to have my daily run along the trails.’
A home close to woodland in Derbyshire: Proximity to such areas is now high on home buyers’ wish lists, according to property experts
Proximity to woodland is becoming more and more of a consideration for buyers, thanks in part to the role nature plays in our mental and physical wellbeing.
Visits to forests managed by Forest England rose by 74 per cent between 2016 and 2021.
Nobody did more to spread the word about just how good trees are for the planet than the late multimillionaire publisher, Felix Dennis.
His legacy is the Heart of England Forest, not far from Stratford-upon-Avon; a stretch of woodland spanning more than 7,000 acres with nearly 2 million broadleaf trees and hedges.
Coincidentally, Braggington House, Dorsington, which adjoins Dennis’s forest, is currently for sale. It is a 16th-century village house, timber-framed with typically English black-and-white elevations.
‘Its location, backing on to the woods, is important,’ says estate agent Robert Pritchard. ‘Felix Dennis made the woodland a registered charity so no unwanted development can go on there.’
Braggington House is for sale for £1,125,000.
James Greenwood, of Stacks Home Search, who advises buyers looking to live near the Forest of Dean, is an expert on the possible dangers of buying near to woodland.
He warns clients to ensure the house they have in mind has secure fencing; deer or, worse, wild boar can ruin a garden in a single night.
Also check who owns the woodland. Are you allowed to walk there or help yourself to any timber?
Hire a surveyor to check that nearby trees are not endangering the foundations or causing root damage to pipes.
Finally, visit the woodland at weekends and talk to the neighbours. The woods may be a honey-pot for visitors and you may not want to be gawked at by day-trippers.
For most people, though, living in a house near woodland is a joy.
‘I’ve opened my bedroom window and seen badgers, deer and fox cubs playing,’ says Steve Hunt of Micheldever. ‘The dawn chorus is incredible and nothing beats the scent of bluebells wafting in from the woods.’
On the market… and trees included
Hampshire: Lower Farm is a 17th-century, Grade II-listed thatched cottage in Ellisfield with character features, including exposed timbers. Knightfrank.co.uk, 020 3869 4758. £950,000
Kent: This Victorian, semi-detached cottage in the village of Adisham has three bedrooms. The property is surrounded by greenery. Struttandparker.com, 01227 473 742. £350,000
Cumbria: In the Wasdale Valley, near Scafell Pike, this four-bedroom property comes with 20 acres of land — including some woodland. Pfk.co.uk, 01900 826 205. £850,000