Friends of Freeman's Wood

To preserve and enhance Coronation Field and Freeman's Wood for the people of Lancaster. 

This site provides a range of information to those interested in the future of Freeman's Wood and the surrounding area.

Navigate the site using the links accessible on the left of the page (large screen devices) or by opening the links menu by clicking in the top left corner (small screen devices) 

Follow the  continuing campaign to protect Freeman's Wood on social media by subscribing to the community facebook group and/or sign up to the excellent and informative newsletter!


 The Friends of Freeman’s Wood (FFW) completed the purchase of 27 acres of land in April 2023, which includes the Freeman’s Wood Town Green and a smaller rectangle of woodland between the Town Green and Coronation Field, off Willow Lane in Lancaster.


Jon Barry is the Chair of FFW, which is now a registered charity (no. 1202583) with four initial trustees. Jon said “Thank you to every one of the nearly 800 people who made ‘square-holder’ donations and helped to bring the land into community ownership. We are also grateful to the Lancaster University Wind Turbine Community Benefit Fund and two other charitable trusts who provided grants towards the next stages of our project.”


In Summer 2023 FFW worked with Proffitt’s CIC to develop a masterplan for making Freeman’s Wood more accessible and welcoming. The local community was consulted on the draft masterplan through an event at Hornets Bar function room, an online questionnaire, and a visit to Freeman’s Wood with children and staff from Marsh Community Centre. The responses to the consultation informed the final masterplan. In September 2023, FFW began applying for grants to fund the first phase of the project.


A 3-minute video explaining the need for improvements to Freeman’s Wood can be viewed here. Anyone interested in supporting this project financially or in other ways is invited to contact


In the next year or two, FFW hopes to:

·      Create level entrances from the Lancaster-Glasson cycleway/bridleway and the footpath between Willow Lane and Freeman’s Pools, and link them via a surfaced path skirting the edge of the meadow, so that the peacefulness of Freeman’s Wood can be enjoyed by everyone.

·      Install new signage including a noticeboard near the start of the Lancaster-Glasson cycleway, fingerposts and interpretation boards about the history and wildlife of Freeman’s Wood.

·      Add some seating made from natural materials.

·      Improve the BMX track for non-motorised bikes (note that motorbikes are not permitted in Freeman’s Wood).

·      Implement a woodland management plan and grassland/wildflower management plan to promote biodiversity.


One of the reasons why FFW were able to buy the land at an affordable price is that there is a severe infestation of Japanese knotweed  - an invasive species - along parts of the boundary of Freeman’s Wood and the Lune Industrial Estate. FFW has embarked on a knotweed treatment programme, but it is expected to take several years to get it under control.  FFW plans to create a better and safer route from Coronation Field to the meadow, but due to the risk of spreading Japanese knotweed during footpath construction, this will be delayed until the knotweed treatment has worked.


FFW’s programme of monthly guided wildlife walks in 2023 has been very successful, with an average of 40 people attending each month. Other events will be organised in future to enable even more people to appreciate the wide range of plants and creatures living in Freeman’s Wood.

Freemans Wood Masterplan Sept 2023 (1).pdf

Throughout 2023: Free monthly guided walks in Freeman's Wood

When: one Sunday per month, Feb to Oct, usually starting at 2pm prompt (except the bat walk in August).

Where: Starting at the notice board by the play area on Willow Lane.

Duration: approximately 2 hours.

Things to note: All walks are family-friendly, without great distances. Dogs on leads welcome. Paths are often muddy so suitable footwear is essential. 

Dates, themes and walk leaders               

February 26th  Trees (Martin Sherlock)

March 26th       Birds (Jon Carter)

April 30th           Foraging (Julia Russell)

May 28th          Wildflowers (Ann Lanes & Lucy Brookfield)

June 25th           Grasses (Cath Daniels)

July 23rd       Freeman's Pools (Phil Reddel)

August 27th      Bats (Lucy Brookfield)  *8.30pm start, bring a torch*

Sept. 24th           Insects (Steve Garland)

October 29th     Fungi & Tree Ecology (Steve Bullen & Duncan Slater)

Note: we will invite small donations at the end of each walk to help cover our costs, but making a donation is optional.

These walks are organised by the Friends of Freeman's Wood, in partnership with North Lancashire Wildlife Group and the Wildlife Trust for Lancashire, Manchester and North Merseyside.

January 2023:  Update on the community buyout

In 2022 the Friends of Freeman’s Wood, in partnership with Lancaster Green Spaces, successfully raised more than £60,000 to buy Freeman’s Wood.

Thank you to everyone who donated via our ‘square-holders’ sponsorship scheme, or provided grant funding, to help to protect the land in perpetuity for the benefit of wildlife and the local community.


The buyout is still proceeding, but it is taking a long time to finalise the legal checks and paperwork. We hope to be able to announce soon that the purchase has been completed. 

Once community ownership is secured, the next stage will be developing a masterplan for access improvements and a woodland management plan, with further public consultation.

June 2022: Become a Freeman’s Wood Square-holder!

The Friends of Freeman’s Wood (FFW) community group is inviting residents to become a ‘square-holder’ in a community buy-out of the 27-acre Freeman’s Wood.


The group needs to raise around £60,000 to buy the land from the current owner, a property developer based on the other side of the world.


The group’s secretary Emily Heath said:

By owning the land as a community, we could make it a much better resource for local people and wildlife. We would be able to protect it from development even if planning laws change, and apply for grants to fund improvements that are wanted by local residents.


The Friends group is using the concept behind the ‘what3words’ app to divide the land into around 12,000 squares, each identified by a unique combination of three words (for example, ///copy.clear.roses is located in the open space in the middle of Freeman’s Wood, as shown in the image below). Each square is 3 metres by 3 metres – about the size of a small room. ‘Square-holders’ who have the app on their phones will be able to find their sponsored squares very easily.

Emily Heath continued:

We are asking members of the public to sponsor one or more squares. Each square costs £5 – so twenty squares is £100 and an acre costs £2,250. All donations, big or small, are very welcome. Once all 12,000 squares have been sponsored, there will be enough money to buy the land.


Squares can be sponsored online at or cheques payable to ‘Friends of Freeman’s Wood’ can be sent to the FFW treasurer Simon Thomas at 37 Coverdale Road, Lancaster, LA1 5PY.


A consultation event will be held on Saturday 16th July, from 2.00-5.00 pm in a marquee on Coronation Field. Committee member Eleanor Levin said:


“Please come along on the 16th July. The Friends of Freeman's Wood are hoping to talk to people of all ages and backgrounds about what you would like to see happening with Freeman’s Wood over the next 1-10 years. We’ll lead guided walks around Freeman’s Wood, and there will be drinks and cakes for sale, with all proceeds going towards the purchase of the land.

April 2022: Community buyout of Freeman's Wood.

 It’s exciting times for the Friends of Freeman’s Wood, as the current owners of Freeman's Wood (Lune Industrial Estate Ltd) have agreed to sell the land. This means that, for the first time, a community buyout is a real possibility.

The Friends of Freeman's Wood (FFW) committee, North Lancashire Community Land Trust (NLCLT) and Lancaster Green Spaces (LGS) are working together to make this possible. The idea is for NLCLT to buy the land using a loan, which FFW would pay back by the end of this year in return for control of the land - either through a management agreement, long-term lease or transfer of ownership.  LGS would assist with fundraising, as they are a registered charity and can therefore claim Gift Aid on donations from taxpayers. 

To purchase the land would cost around £60,000 (including legal fees), and it would also be desirable to raise a further amount to develop and implement a woodland management plan.

If the community buyout goes ahead, we would hope to raise some of the money from individual donors, and the rest from charitable grants.  A big fundraising effort will be needed over the coming months.

What are the advantages of owning the land?

Freeman's Wood was granted Town Green status in Spring 2020, after a long battle by the local community. This status currently protects the land from development, but there is always a risk that the law could be changed to weaken or abolish this protection, or that the landowner could get planning permission to develop Freeman's Wood by providing an alternative piece of land for community use somewhere nearby. 

If the community owned the land, we could guarantee its protection from development, and we would be able to manage the land in a way that benefits people and wildlife. The spiked metal fence that was erected in 2011 deters people from entering the woods and using the open space in the middle for recreation. We could make it more accessible and welcoming if we had control over the land.

Of course, this wonderful opportunity will bring extra responsibilities too. It will probably be necessary to change the legal status of Friends of Freeman's Wood - e.g. to become a Charitable Trust or Charitable Incorporated Organisation - to make it easier to raise funds, recruit trustees, manage volunteers and employ people if needed.

There is a lot to do, so we will need lots of FFW members to get involved and help make it happen. We will also need to consult widely on how the wood would be managed in future.


Please complete our quick survey to let us know what you think and whether you can help in any way.

Planning Application Withdrawn (Oct 2020)

FFW Press Release Appn WithdrawalOct2020 Final.docx

Success of the community campaign has had final confirmation as planning application officially withdrawn

Read the Lancaster Guardian story and the FFW press release to celebrate! 

Freemans Wood SAVED! (Feb 2020)

As of Monday 10th February 2020 - Freeman’s Wood in the Marsh area of Lancaster has been successfully designated as a Town Green, following the unanimous decision made by a special sub-committee of Lancashire County Council.

Read the full press-release by 'Friends of Freeman's Wood' below

FFW Press Release 11.02.20 Town Green success.asd (2).docx.pdf

"The new status will protect this much-loved woodland from future development, preserving this important green space as a haven for wildlife and as a special place for local people to enjoy.”

Jon Barry, Cllr Gina Dowding and Cllr Mandy Bannon of FFW

Tree Damage at Freeman's Wood (May 2020)

On the 24th April, members of the local community were shocked to see bulldozers ripping out trees and shrubs on the boundary between Freeman’s Wood and the part of the industrial estate owned by Hurstwood Holdings. Freeman’s Wood is now protected from development as it has been awarded Town Green status following years of campaigning by Friends of Freeman’s Wood and local residents.

Mandy Bannon, Councillor for Marsh ward, said:

 “I was shocked to find out about the tree destruction and contacted City Council Planning Officers straight away.  They asked the developers to cease work, but the clearance continued despite this.  A track has now been created along the boundary, and the removal of trees is clear to see.  It’s heart-breaking - especially when the local community has worked so hard to protect this woodland as a natural green space.”

Jon Barry (who led led the campaign to secure Freeman’s Woods Town Green status) said “The destruction of dozens of trees and shrubs on the Freeman’s Wood boundary is mindless vandalism.  It looks like the clearance work has affected trees which were covered by tree preservation orders and has encroached on the Town Green boundary too.  It is especially upsetting that this demolition of wildlife habitat has taken place during the bird-nesting season.  Many breeding birds will have been adversely affected, as will hedgehogs, deer, foxes and other animals that use the wood.”

The City Council has provided the following statement: 

“Following complaints to the Council regarding damage and removal of trees, immediate contact was made with the developer, and a meeting has now taken place.  “They [the developers] have been advised that the earth moving works and creation of a track do not have the necessary planning permission, and a full investigation [by the City Council] is taking place in respect of the removal and damage to trees in the area of the boundary between Freeman’s Wood and Lune Industrial Estate.  It has been advised that any further works are now at their own risk.”

FFW Tree damage on boundary PR 5.5.20 MB Final.docx.pdf

Full statement on Tree damage 

Friends of Freeman's Wood 5.5.2020