Bourne Woods is a part of the forest holdings of Forestry England ( FE, formerly The Forestry Commission). It is managed by them as a forestry resource but has also been used for 25 years as a location for film and TV production. The first major film shoot there was Gladiator in 1998/99. FE removed a number of trees for that movie in order to open up filming space, and the resulting ‘bowl’ has proved an attractive site for a number of major films since (Sherlock Holmes, Children of a Lesser God, Robin Hood and Captain America among them).

In 2013, FE applied to regularise the use of Bourne Woods as a film location via a planning application to Waverley Council. TBRA was not against film use per se, but was instrumental in leading community resistance to uncontrolled use. Eventually, planning permission was granted in 2014 for controlled and limited film use.  There were 20+ separate controls implemented over the film use, and these proved effective in limiting environmental damage to the woods, ensuring that community access to Bourne Woods for recreational purposes was maintained as far as possible, and that annoyance to neighbours for instance from traffic, light and noise, was limited.

The planning permission granted in 2014 lapsed in 2019, and any film use now is under the relevant temporary change of use provisions. We have been advised that FE do intend to apply for revised planning permission (they feel that the previous controls made film use difficult, and that film companies went elsewhere to find locations), but to date in January 2020, no new application has been made.

TBRA keep a watching brief on film work in BW, and any comments on that use can be sent to the TBRA Bourne Woods coordinator, Tony Patterson, at