Activists save trees at Firgrove Parade

Save Firgrove Green

Save Firgrove Green

public footpath obstructed and taped off

public footpath obstructed and taped off

healthy trees a greedy developer is trying to destroy

healthy trees a greedy developer is trying to destroy

Green Frontage: The town has an abundance of green edges, including in those spaces adjacent to main roads. This characteristic is a positive asset for the town, and enhances environmental quality. — Supplementary Planning Guidance for Farnborough town centre

Shame on you RBC, I had the chance to speak to the poor men who were hired to do this job, they were outraged and said that this wouldn’t happen in their council, they had no idea they were walking into the middle of all of this. I am disgusted RBC. — Clairey Marshall

An alert went out this morning, perfectly healthy trees were being cut down at Firgrove Parade on the edge of the ugly concrete wasteland that is Farnborough town centre.

The trees, and the little green area in which they are growing, is important to the town centre and highly regarded, as although it is small, it is the only green space in the town centre, and helps soften the urban environment.

Members of the local community quickly descended on the green, unfurled their banners, and stopped any further work. Passers by gave their support, as did passing motorists.

The one exception to the support, was a pathetic little troll posting his usual garbage on twitter. He clearly has nothing better to do in his sad, pathetic life.

The guys cutting the trees, were politely informed they were unlawfully obstructing public highway, that is they were blocking public footpaths that cross the green space. When asked to prove they had lawful authority to block the footpaths this they were unable to do. They were then asked to leave.

Sadly a lovely flowering cherry tree has been cut down, another flowering cherry and an apple tree.

And what was the local council doing?

They were notified. The response people got from a planning official was what people have come to expect, a mixture of bloody-minded obstruction and misinformation.

We have been contacted by a number of residents about the tree works currently taking place adjacent to Firgrove Parade.

Your question about the technical procedure for seeking a TPO is something which our Arboricultural Officer would normally advise on and I will ask him to contact you in this regard if you wish.

I am sending you this interim reply, first, because he is currently out on site, and secondly because what you seem to be asking, is whether this procedure can be invoked immediately in order to prevent further felling of trees on the land next to Firgrove Parade. I hope this prompt reply reassures you that your urgent enquiry has not been overlooked. However this is not a circumstance where action of the type you suggest would be appropriate.

In coming to a decision on a recent development proposal for this site, the history, type, condition and amenity value of the trees was assessed and considered. This did not however justify refusal of planning permission nor did it identify trees worthy of TPO designation.

We understand the contractors on site to be working on behalf of the landowners Bride Hall Holdings. As this is privately owned land and the trees are not protected by a Tree Preservation Order, the landowners are within their rights to carry out this work.

He refers people to the tree officer. But does not give a name, does not give an e-mail.

He was asked to provide the procedure for issuing a TPO. He fails to do so.

He repeats the lie Rushmoor produced a report on the trees. The report on the trees was from Bride Hall, the developer that had issued instructions to the tree surgeons to cut down the trees.

He repeats the lie that the trees were in a poor state of health. Not true.

He also lies when he says the trees have no amenity value.

Has he ever seen the trees?

The only truth in his entire e-mail, is that as the trees are on private land, lack TPOs, Bride Hall can cut them down. Only they have local people determined to stop them being cut down.

But what is interesting, he does not say, TPOs cannot be issued.

A few weeks ago, a planning committee gave planning consent to build on this land. But they did so on the basis they were lied to and misled and misdirected by planning officials.

They were told the trees were in poor state of health. A statement that simply was not true, as anyone who has seen the trees can confirm, and has also been confirmed by two independent surveys of the trees. A careful examination of the stumps of the three trees cut down showed no sign of disease.

Even the tree surgeons tasked to cut down the trees were at a loss why they were being asked to cut down healthy trees and were upset at having to do so.

If the council tree officer is unable to differentiate between a healthy and unhealthy tree, then why is he still employed by the council? Surely he should be fired for incompetence? If the council tree officer is clearing the way to facilitate a development, as appears to be the case, should he not be under investigation and charged with Misconduct in Public Office?

The committee were left to labour under the false impression they were dealing with report by their own tree officer. The Agenda before them perversely did not actually contain the report on the trees. They were left to labour under this false impression, it was not corrected by planning officials, not even when councillors questioned the competence of the tree officer (who was not present to be questioned). The tree report was from the developer Bride Hall.

But is gets worse.

The planning application had been predetermined by senior councillors October 2012, when they quashed a restrictive covenant on the grounds that it was onerous for the developer.

But it gets even worse.

A set of e-mails, heavily redacted, obtained under a Freedom of Information request, shows the council was discussing the development over a year before the senior councillors quashed the restrictive covenant, and part of that discussion, was Bride Hall telling the council that the restrictive covenant must be quashed, as otherwise their development could not go ahead.

When senior councillors quashed the restrictive covenant they were not told of these discussions, neither was the planning committee. Indeed, the head of planning who was party to these discussion, blatantly lied to the committee when he said the planning application had not been predetermined.

These back-door behind closed door discussions should have taken place before the committee, but no, a grubby little deal was stitched up long before a planning application was submitted, let alone before the plans went out to consultation or were put before the committee.

This would be like, one side of a case, having back-door secret discussions with a judge to determine the outcome of a case.

Bride Hall thought obtaining planning consent and all was over. If so, they were very much mistaken.

Today it was the local community who won the day. It is now one each, with everything to play for.

Bride Hall are trying to destroy the green space, and four local businesses, to build an ugly 80-bedroom Premier Inn hotel. Are Premier Inn happy with the bad publicity Bride Hall are generating for them?

Bride Hall are also wanting to demolish The Tumbledown Dick and redevelop the site as a Drive-Thru McDonald’s.

The developers may have the local council in their pocket, but as we saw today, they do not have the local community in their pocket.

At a time of austerity when everyone is having to cut back, tighten their belts, the local council is wasting £1 million of local taxpayers money in the town centre to lay new paving slabs, plant a few trees and install a few benches. On the other hand for £1000 they quash a restrictive covenant to protect open green space because it is onerous for a developer.

In bed with developers, the council has allowed the town centre to be trashed. Do they really think cosmetic changes, tarting up the town centre, is really going to bring the punters in?

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Warning: @Save_Firgrove on twitter is a spam account operated by a pathetic troll. Please block and report for spam.

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5 Responses to “Activists save trees at Firgrove Parade”

  1. keithpp Says:

    the National Planning policy framework states:

    75. Planning policies should protect and enhance public rights of way and access. Local authorities should seek opportunities to provide better facilities for users, for example by adding links to existing rights of way networks including National Trails.

    76. Local communities through local and neighbourhood plans should be able to identify for special protection green areas of particular importance to them. By designating land as Local Green Space local communities will be able to rule out new development other than in very special circumstances. Identifying land as Local Green Space should therefore be consistent with the
    local planning of sustainable development and complement investment in sufficient homes, jobs and other essential services. Local Green Spaces should only be designated when a plan is prepared or reviewed, and be capable of enduring beyond the end of the plan period.

    77. The Local Green Space designation will not be appropriate for most green areas or open space. The designation should only be used:
    ● where the green space is in reasonably close proximity to the community it serves;
    ● where the green area is demonstrably special to a local community and holds a particular local significance, for example because of its beauty, historic significance, recreational value (including as a playing field), tranquillity or richness of its wildlife; and
    ● where the green area concerned is local in character and is not an extensive tract of land.

    78. Local policy for managing development within a Local Green Space should be consistent with policy for Green Belts.

  2. keithpp Says:

  3. keithpp Says:

    Press conference: 10 am under the trees Monday 15 July 2013.

  4. keithpp Says:

    Has the Council adopted this excellent policy on trees? If not, why not?

    http://www.tdag.org.uk/uploads/4/2/8/0/4280686/no_trees_no_future.pdf

    If they have, then why is the Council sitting idly by and letting healthy trees at Firgrove Parade be destroyed? Even worse, why are planning officials and their tree officer peddling a lie that the trees are in a poor state of health?

  5. keithpp Says:

    Note: Troll account @Save_Firgrove has been suspended.

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