The Friends of Bolehill Wood raised £52,000 in donations in just under five days ahead of an auction of the site in an effort to buy the much-loved woodland which was feared could be bought by ‘big-boy developers.’
But another bidder, whom auctioneers Mark Jenkinson & Son declined to name, secured it at a price of £68,000.
In a statement, the Friends of Bolehill Wood, which was formed earlier this month, said: “We are so sorry to announce that our attempt to purchase Bolehill Woods on behalf of the community has failed at auction today.
“We are all absolutely devastated. We want to thank our 400 plus donors and everyone who has shared and campaigned for the incredible support you have given us.
“Our community’s determination to preserve the woodland for the good of wildlife and local people has been awe-inspiring.
“We may have lost the auction, but our fighting spirit will persist and Friends of Bolehill Wood will continue in some form.”
They are now arranging refunds to donors.
Bolehill Wood in Woodseats is classed as an area of natural history and has several tree protection orders and abundant wildlife.
It forms roughly half of woodland on the hillside between the higher Bolehill area of Norton Woodseats and the Woodseats area lower down.
It includes several public rights of way linking the two areas and can be accessed via Cobnar Road, Cobnar Avenue, Cherry Bank Road and Helmton Drive.
Coun Steve Ayris, representative for Graves Park ward, tweeted: “So deeply disappointed that the heroic work put in by so many local people to acquire Bolehill Woods hasn’t paid off.
“Going forward, let’s now work together to ensure the woodland, wildlife and amenity are protected.”
Sheffield and Rotherham Wildlife Trust and Sheffield Environmental also gave their support to the group on Twitter.
Sheffield Environmental said: “It’s a shame that you didn’t ‘win’ in the auction house, but that doesn’t mean you lost. As a community you still have a stake in this woodland, you’ve created something special that the new owners can’t take away.”