Gone are the days when life in a house in the woods was reserved exclusively for the Three Bears or reclusive backwoods dwellers.
Research by real estate consultants LRG shows that homes less than 50 meters from the forest receive a premium of 6 percent.
And in some places – near Bournemouth, County Durham and North East Lincolnshire – that number rises to 15 per cent.
Spread Out: A Cottage Near Exmoor National Park, Somerset. Research by real estate consultants LRG shows that homes located less than 50 meters from forest receive a premium of 6%
“This is largely due to the pandemic and the home working that has ensued,” says Tim Foreman, managing director at LRG.
“After spending so much time indoors, people appreciate the benefits of being outdoors surrounded by nature for their well-being.”
When Steve Hunt built his dream home in 2007, he found the perfect spot: next to Micheldever Woods in Hampshire.
Working with architect Huw Thomas, he created an arts and crafts style house that blends into the tree backdrop.
“I love being so close to the forest,” says Steve, 62, a retired contractor. He is now selling the five bedroom house for £2,250,000. “The ever-changing picture of the seasons, from the spring sprouts to the bare trees in winter, is fascinating.”
But nearby forests don’t just help with the sale of high-quality houses – trees also change modern housing developments.
The times when you could build a house with just a 3 x 1.50 m garden as an open space will soon be over
“The environmental law that will come into effect next year requires that every new home must have access to a sizable community forest or landscape park,” says Ananya Banerjee, Boyer’s director of design and planning.
“The times when you could only build a house with a 3 x 1.50 m garden as an open space will soon be over.”
Huge home builders like Barratt Homes have embraced this philosophy. The company recently launched The Woodlands, Broad Oak in Kent, a collection of two, three and four bedroom houses with mature woodland on the borders.
It’s a haven for wildlife, with everything from bird and bat boxes to hedgehog highways. Prices start at £309,995.
Meanwhile, Bewley Homes is building three and four bedroom homes at Ash Lodge Park in Ash, near Guildford, at prices between £510,000 and £545,000.
The homes are a minute’s walk from the woods of the Christmas Pie Trail, a disused railroad line surrounded by woods and popular with hikers.
“We only have a small garden, but the forest nearby makes up for it,” says CEO Ben Parkinson, 47.
“My daughter rides her bike there; This is fun for the dog and I like to walk on the paths every day.”
A home near the woods in Derbyshire: proximity to such areas is now high on homebuyers’ wish lists, according to property experts
Proximity to the forest is becoming increasingly important for buyers, also thanks to the role that nature plays in our mental and physical well-being.
Visits to Forest England managed forests increased by 74 per cent between 2016 and 2021.
No one has done more to spread the word about how good trees are for the planet than the late multi-millionaire publisher Felix Dennis.
His legacy is the Heart of England Forest, not far from Stratford-upon-Avon; a forest area of more than 7,000 hectares with almost 2 million deciduous trees and hedges.
Coincidentally, Braggington House, Dorsington, which borders Dennis’ Wood, is currently for sale. It is a 16th century village house, half timbered with typically English black and white facades.
“The location behind the forest is important,” says real estate agent Robert Pritchard. “Felix Dennis has made the forest a registered charity so that no unwanted development can take place 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 potential dangers of buying near forests.
He warns clients to make sure the house they have in mind is securely fenced; Deer or, worse, wild boar can ruin a garden in a single night.
Also check who owns the forest. Are you allowed to walk there or help yourself to wood?
Hire a surveyor to check to see if nearby trees are threatening foundations or causing root damage to pipes.
Finally, visit the forest on weekends and talk to the neighbors. The forest can be a honey pot for visitors and you might not want to be stared at by day trippers.
However, for most people, living in a house near a forest is a joy.
“I opened my bedroom window and saw badgers, deer and fox cubs playing,” says Micheldever’s Steve Hunt. “The morning chorus is incredible and nothing beats the scent of bluebells wafting in from the woods.”
At the market… and trees included
Hampshire: Lower Farm is a Grade II Listed 17th Century thatched cottage in Ellisfield with distinctive features including exposed beams. Knightfrank.co.uk, 020 3869 4758. £950,000
Kent: This Victorian semi-detached house 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 has 20 acres of land – including some woodland. Pfk.co.uk, 01900 826 205. £850,000