SOME 92 years after it was first offered for sale to the Forestry Commission, the 2,500-ha Croxton Estate finally belongs to Forestry England.

Shortage of acquisition funds at the time led to the Forestry Commissioners persuading the Crown Estate Commissioners to buy it instead, and to grant them a lease, limited to ‘purposes of afforestation’ only.

Forest England land agent, Charles Ashley, has been negotiating with the Crown Estate for over three years to buy the freehold, using compensation funding from Highways England from the A11 dualling scheme at Thetford.

Close to High Lodge Visitor Centre, acquisition of the Croxton Estate connects this important recreation facility to significant additional land for public recreation, near to the expanding town of Thetford.

Forest management director, Alex Brearley, said: “Securing the freehold on this important estate has ensured the long-term viability and future of this important part of Thetford Forest. We look forward to developing plans to enhance the area for the public, biodiversity and nature conservation, timber production and carbon capture.”

As the land agent that negotiated both the acquisition funding and secured the acquisition, Charles Ashley said: “At 2,500 ha, Croxton forms an important part of Thetford Forest and is the largest single freehold acquisition ever in East England Forest District.

“Securing permanent ownership of the land as part of the nation’s forests will enable Forestry England to maximise the opportunity for public benefits and safeguard our investment in recreation, conservation and trees.”

Chair of The Friends of Thetford Forest (FOTF), Anne Mason, added: “This year has shown how important it is for all of us to be outdoors, for our health and well-being, so increasing the extent of Thetford Forest is a wonderful and most welcome achievement.

“FOTF is delighted that this former estate will be managed for sustainable timber production, wildlife, archaeology and recreation.”

The land lies within the Breckland Special Protection Area and is a Site of Special Scientific Interest. It includes lowland heath, heritage features and part of the Little Ouse river, creating considerable scope for enhancing nature conservation and environmental improvements.

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