2003-2004; Rescue

Kent property developers, Ward Homes, acquired the land east of the Church Landway for 60 homes in 1987.  Since that time Bearsted residents made several attempts to fight the development, so 16 years later, the area lay derelict and nothing had been done. 

Suddenly, on the day of the Bearsted Fayre in 2003, Wards began clearing trees from the site, provoking a massive public outcry. At this point Mr & Mrs Ashness, the owners of Mote Hall, most generously decided to buy the land from Wards in order to protect it as green space, and give the bulk of it to the village in perpetuity. The first meeting of the Bearsted Woodland Trust Management Committee was held in January 2004, and the first site clearing work was undertaken by 100 volunteers in April. 

The first BWT newsletter was distributed to 3,000 homes in June and 250 families joined the Friends of BWT

In October 2003 the land was offered to The (National) Woodland Trust, who refused it, so the decision was taken to create a local charity to own and manage the land. In December Medway Valley Countryside Partnership was appointed to produce a management plan for the land.

200 woodland and 50 individual trees were sponsored, and planted by over 150 volunteers in November 2004.