Oxfordshire County Council has finally granted Stockey Woods ‘Village Green’ status. In 2016 Tricia Astle and others collected voluminous evidence from village residents and groups, including the Scouts and Primary School, showing how they had enjoyed the woods ‘as of right’ for many decades. She submitted the evidence and application. Blenheim Estate, the landowner, objected to the application, triggering an eight-day public inquiry. Tricia sought legal advice. After substantial legal submissions, Blenheim graciously withdrew its objection. Having considered yet further legal submissions and evidence, OCC approved the application on 24 February 2021.

Congratulations are due to Tricia in the first place, and Jim Astle and many others for supporting the campaign through to a successful conclusion.

What does village green status mean? It could be said that everything has changed and nothing has changed. The woods are still the property of Blenheim Estate who will continue to be responsible for managing the trees. Stonesfield residents can continue to use the woods as they always have. The difference is that those rights have now been enshrined in law in perpetuity.

It is really important that villagers respect the woods, which is a Site of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI) like the Common. To keep it beautiful, please follow these simple rules: no camping, fires or barbeques; no unauthorised motor vehicles; take litter home; keep dogs under control; pick up and take your dog poo home; do not damage trees or pick flowers.

David Brown, Stonesfield Parish Council / Richard Morris, Sustainable Stonesfield