Archive for the ‘Occupy Firgrove’ Category

Firgrove Green: Council tree officer did not inspect trees he condemned as unhealthy

August 23, 2013
open green space, rights of way and trees, two days before councillors rubber-stamped to destroy

open green space, trees and rights of way, two days before councillors rubber-stamped to destroy

At the planning meeting in June to decide the fate of Firgrove Parade (destruction of open green space, cutting down of trees, destruction of four local businesses) the planners blatantly lied. They lied about the state of the trees. To be exact, they repeatedly lied on several counts, but pivotal to the outcome, was the lies they told about the trees.

They claimed the trees were unhealthy, were at the end of their lives. They let the councillors believe they were discussing a tree report by their very own tree officer, although no tree report was before them, no tree report was included in the Agenda, even though the state of the trees was pivotal to the decision to be reached that night.

Councillors questioned the integrity of the tree officer, questioned why he was not standing before them to be cross-examined on the state of the trees. One even said, if they had a different report on the trees, they would be reaching a different decision that evening.

The councillors voted to destroy Firgrove Parade, voted to destroy four local businesses, cut down trees and destroy the only remaining green space in that part of Farnborough town centre.

They reached their decision based upon a pack of lies fed to them by planning officials who were determined to push through a development on behalf of Bride Hall. The same developer wishing to destroy The Tumbledown Dick for a Drive-Thru McDonald’s.

The tree report the councillors were discussing, and unbeknown to them as they did not have it before them, was a tree report from the developer Bride Hall.

As a Freedom of Information request has shown, there was no report from the tree officer, as the tree officer never produced one. Nor did the tree officer inspect the trees. The tree officer simply endorsed the tree report from the developer without troubling himself to actually get off his backside and check the state of the trees.

1.    Details of any tree inspection carried out by the Council and a copy of any inspection report prepared by the Council
 
No such inspection was carried out and there therefore is no such report.
 
2.    Confirmation that the Council saw Bride Hall’s tree report and any details of any endorsement or comments on it
 
I can confirm that the Council received and reviewed Bride Hall’s Arboricultural Report (a copy of which I attach).  As is the usual process, the Council’s Arboricultural Officer is consulted in respect of a planning application and their response is included in the report to the Development Control Committee. In this instance, the Council’s Arboricultural Officer reviewed this report responded to the consultation that they had no objection to the proposals.  This is stated in the Committee report (also attached – see page 27).  Beyond this, there are no other endorsements or comments on Bride Hall’s Arboricultural Report.
 
3.    Details of checks were made for nesting birds
 
The Council has no such details of checks that may have been made for nesting birds (nor would we expect to given that the responsibility for compliance with the relevant legislation lies with the owner of the land and/or the party carrying out works to the trees).
 
4.    Notes on any internal discussions on these trees and copies of e-mails
 
Having reviewed our files, the only information we can find regarding this issue is the Arboricultural Officer’s consultation response which was included in the relevant Committee report.
 
5.    Notes on any discussion, meeting, telephone call and e-mails between Bride Hall and the Council
 
Section 12 of the Freedom of Information Act (“the Act”) makes provision for public authorities to refuse requests for information where the cost of dealing with them would exceed the appropriate limit, which for local government is set at £450 (by the Freedom of Information and Data Protection (Appropriate Limit and Fees) Regulation 2004, “the Regulations”). This represents the estimated cost of one person spending 18 working hours in determining whether the Council holds the information, locating, retrieving and extracting the information.  Given that Bride Hall own a number of sites in the Borough and have done so for many years and the extremely wide nature of your request, I believe that it would take substantially in excess of 18 hours to deal with your request. Therefore we will not be processing your request any further.

Local people delayed the cutting down of the trees, but all have now gone, bar one. Healthy trees were cut down in a crude attempt to hide the fact the planners lied to push through a planning application on behalf of Bride Hall. One tree remains. Its fate was decided by a nesting bird.

It is reasonable to expect expect all council officials to discharge their duties and responsibilities with due diligence. This would not appear to have been the case with the council tree officer.

The council tree officer endorsed the tree report from Bride Hall without he himself inspecting the trees. This to say the least beggars belief. Far from exercising due diligence, he has shown gross dereliction of duty, misconduct and maladministration.

How can the council tree officer possibly review and endorse the Bride Hall tree report without inspecting the trees it refers to? How does he even know the species of trees or their number is correct, let alone the health or amenity value of those trees?

It is difficult for the liars to keep their stories straight.
 
The tree officer is forbidden to discuss his non-existent tree report.

Sarita Jones, planning case officer, has claimed tree officer inspected the trees and produced a report. Would not have approved the Bride Hall report without checking the trees.

Jeremy Rosen, temporary borough solicitor, has said emergency Tree Preservation Orders could not be put on the trees as this would stop the development taking place.

Keith Holland, head of planning, said cutting down the trees had nothing to do with the development.

The trees that were cut down, were, contrary to the lies to the planning committee, healthy trees.

Advertisements

Occupy Firgrove: Two more trees cut down

July 31, 2013
turning felled tree into logs

turning felled tree into logs

This morning an alert went out, tree surgeons are back, more trees being cut down.

The fear was, the tree with a nesting pigeon was being cut down. The police were notified, as to disturb a nesting bird, its nest, its eggs, its young, is an offence under the Wildlife and Countryside Act.

It turned out to be a false alarm, yes there were trees being cut down, but not the one with a nesting bird.

The tree surgeons will not be back until the autumn, the end of the bird nesting season, as they are well aware to cut down the one remaining tree would be an offence under Wildlife and Countryside Act.

The logs that were left when most of the trees were cut down last week have been removed. These were than rapacious developer Bride hall could stomach, as they sent a very clear signal healthy trees had been cut down, and the extent to which planning officials had lied to push the planning application through on their behalf to build an 80-bed Premier Inn hotel on this site.

The fence around the green is here to stay. THe fencing brackets that hold the fence panels in place, need a special tool, they cannot be unbolted with an ordinary spanner.

Mid-afternoon, after the tree surgeons has left, the fencing panel that had been unlawful blocking a public right of way for over a week, have been removed. Whether or not Highways have carried out enforcement, as they were well aware of the unlawful obstruction of public highway, is not known.

Around the corner Bride Hall are wanting to destroy the 16th century Tumbledown Dick. Earlier this week, a planning application was submitted by McDonald’s to turn The Tumbledown Dick into a Drive-Thru McDonald’s. The Tumbledown Dick is in a very poor state of disrepair, gaping holes in the roof, due to deliberate neglect by Bride Hall and failure to carry out enforcement on repairs by the local council.

Occupy Firgrove: Unlawful obstruction of public footpath

July 30, 2013
Firgrove Green blocked footpath

Firgrove Green blocked footpath

Last Wednesday, tree surgeons employed by greedy developer Bride Hall, arrived mob handed with riot police, private security thugs and fencers to cut down trees on Firgrove Green.

They unlawfully blocked a public right of way, a footpath that cuts across the green.

The police were asked was it ok to remove the obstruction. Their response was no, anyone who attempted to do so would be arrested for aggravated trespass.

Aggravated trespass is to stop someone on private land going about their lawful business.

It would appear, according to the police, aggravated trespass is stopping someone on a public footpath, stopping someone on a public footpath going about unlawful business, namely unlawfully blocking a right of way.

The contractors had no right to obstruct a public highway, they had made no application to stop or divert the right of way, no notices had been posted notifying of any application.

This morning a notice appeared from Knight Security claiming private property.

Either Knight Security or local trolls removed posters on the fence. It would appear Bride Hall do not like the truth being told about their rapacious greed. But no sooner do Knight Security remove posters, the local community put them back. Maybe they should learn the story of King Canute trying to hold the tide back.

Bride Hall are wanting to destroy the green for an unwanted 80-bedroom Premier Inn hotel. They are also wanting to destroy four local businesses.

Around the corner Bride Hall are wanting to destroy the 16th century Tumbledown Dick. Earlier this week, a planning application was submitted by McDonald’s to turn The Tumbledown Dick into a Drive-Thru McDonald’s. The Tumbledown Dick is in a very poor state of disrepair, gaping holes in the roof, due to deliberate neglect by Bride Hall and failure to carry out enforcement on repairs by the local council.

Note: Thanks to Arthur for picture of blocked path.

Firgrove Parade – Rushmoor Borough Council’s position

July 28, 2013

More bullshit from Rushmoor

secret report on quashing restrictive covenant

secret report on quashing restrictive covenant

secret report on quashing restrictive covenant

secret report on quashing restrictive covenant

There have been a significant number of posts to our Facebook page and other pages over the last couple of days about the removal of the trees at Firgrove Parade, Farnborough, as part of the redevelopment of the site by the landowner, Bride Hall.

There are too many comments for us to be able to respond individually but we do recognise that emotions are running high and that there are strong feelings about the loss of the trees.

We have also seen a number of inaccurate claims and allegations made about the council and individual members of staff relating to Firgrove Parade and we understand that some of these are a result of those strong feelings.

We have previously published statements setting out our position on both Firgrove Parade and its trees, but we would like to respond to the latest comments with further clarification.

Sale of Firgrove Parade

The council identified Firgrove Parade as a potential redevelopment site in the 1980s, providing a key gateway into the town centre.

We sold the site in 1987 to Bride Hall for £600,000 plus an obligation on the landowner to pay further sums on any future redevelopment of the land.

A restrictive covenant was put in place to secure payment of these further sums on any future development.

The covenant was not intended to prevent redevelopment or protect green space.

Revised financial arrangements

Given that 25 years have since passed, the council renegotiated the financial arrangements with the landowner earlier this year.

Under the new arrangements, the council – and therefore the people of the borough – will receive 25% of any increase in value of the Firgrove Parade site following redevelopment.

As part of that arrangement, the council will also receive a nominal £1,000 payment ‘up front’.

This £1,000 has caused some confusion. To be clear, the council did not sell the land for £1,000 nor did we release the existing covenant for £1,000.

As we’ve said previously, we sold the land for £600,000 (plus the arrangements to receive further sums) in 1987. We agreed to replace the existing covenant with a new restriction to secure the revised financial arrangements, with a nominal £1,000 ‘up front’.

We took independent valuation advice on these revised financial arrangements and the Cabinet agreed that they would only be put in place if planning consent was obtained.

Our position on the redevelopment of Firgrove Parade and our planning policies

As we’ve already said, we identified Firgrove Parade as a potential redevelopment site in the 1980 and our position since then has been consistent and reflected in our planning policies for Farnborough town centre.

Most recently, we identified Firgrove Parade for potential redevelopment in the town centre masterplan that we published last year following a month of public consultation, to which nearly 300 people responded.

When we develop planning policies for the borough, we look at how they will best serve our whole population of 94,400. These policies generally cover the long-term development of the borough and are agreed by the council following public consultation. We understand that there may be a difference between what is best for the wider population and for individuals and in making decisions on these policies, our councillors aim to strike the right balance.

Firgrove Parade planning application

It can sometimes be difficult for those not closely involved in the council to understand that we have a number of different roles and take decisions in different capacities. The Cabinet’s decision to agree revised financial arrangements was taken entirely separately from the Development Control Committee’s decision to grant planning consent for Firgrove Parade.

In considering any planning application, the key question is whether the proposed development is in accordance with our development plan. In the case of Firgrove Parade, Bride Hall’s application met fully with our planning policies for the town centre, as we had previously identified and agreed the site as suitable for redevelopment. The council would not have had the right to refuse planning consent for a hotel simply because there is another one close by.

There have been a number of queries about the report provided on the trees at Firgrove Parade. It is entirely proper for the person applying for planning permission to commission an arboricultural report for consideration by the council as part of their planning application. This was the case for Firgrove Parade and the report was made publicly available as part of the consultation on the planning application.

Comments and allegations against the council, its staff and councillors

There have been a number of comments and allegations made about the council, its staff and councillors relating to Firgrove Parade. Again, we understand that feelings are high, but these comments are very public and it is not easy for individuals, in particular, to defend themselves. We believe the council, its staff and councillors have acted entirely properly.

Two press releases from the Council in less than than two weeks trying to justify what they are doing. They must be getting desperate.

One word could summarise this latest press release: bullshit.

We are used to seeing the local community treated with arrogant contempt. Now they are treating local people as fools.

The latest press release is a mix of lies, half truths, misinformation and smears.

Gateway into the town. Er no, this is a back service road, part of which does not even have a footpath. But at least a green, covered with trees and crossed by footpaths, looks far more attractive than an ugly 80-bedroom Premier Inn hotel.

The impression is given the Council negotiated a better deal with the developer. Simply not true. In an exchange of e-mails, the developer Bride Hall demanded of the Council that the restrictive covenant be quashed as it would stop their development taking place. In October 2012, Cabinet met and a secret report stated the restrictive covenant was to quashed because it was ‘onerous’ for the developer. A grubby little backroom deal was stitched up behind closed doors. But we are asked to believe that this was to get a better deal for the Council. Erm, a developer goes to the Council and asks them to quash a restrictive covenant, because it stops their development taking place, as they would not like to go ahead because they are not paying the council enough money. Similarly it is ‘onerous’ to them not to be paying the Council more money. This from a developer registered overseas to avoid tax.

The secret report to Cabinet by the then-Borough Solicitor Karen Limmer could not be less unambiguous:

Authority is sought … to replace the existing land covenant with a new covenant

The present covenant dates from 1987 and restricts development on part of the site. The covenant is considered to be onerous and effectively prevents redevelopment and regeneration taking place …

THe existing covenant to be replaced with a fresh covenant to enable Bride Hall’s develpment to proceed ….

Bride Hall will pay the Council £1000 ….

The existing land covenant to be replaced by a new covenant …

This simply gives to the developer what Bride Hall had been demanding of the Council the year before, namely that the existing covenant be quashed as otherwise their development cannot take place. Nowhere in this report does it say it is the Council quashing the covenant to get a better deal. The report could not be clearer, the covenant is to be quashed because ‘onerous’ for the developer. The report also makes clear, the original covenant ‘restricts development on part of the site’. The report dismisses planning consent as a formality.

The decision by Cabinet was to prejudge the planning decision.

A legal agreement is drawn up, the council gets an upfront payment of £1000. This on a development deal where the Council tell us they will get 25% of the development deal on a multimillion pound development. Pull the other one.

The legal agreement will not be worth the paper it is written on. Any half arse lawyer is going to walk all over this two-bit council.

Let us see this legal agreement. Publish it. Let us see this marvellous deal negotiated on behalf of the local community, a deal the local community were not party to and has not agreed should take place.

The Council decided what is best for the wider population. Having a laugh are we? Since when has this council acted for the local community, done anything that is in the best interest of the local community?

It is not for the Council to decide what is best for the town, in reality developers out to make a fast buck, it is for the local community. People have had enough of seeing St Modwen, and now Bride Hall, trash the town.

It is laughable when the leader of the council describes laying a few paving slabs as exciting news.

There may have been consultation, consultation few knew about. Nearly 300 people may have responded. Were those comments taken on board, were polices changed?

Local people have made it very very clear, they do not wish to see the green destroyed, do not want to see trees felled, do not wish to see local businesses destroyed. But no one is listening.

Yes, developers do submit their own assessment of trees. But what is not acceptable, is for that to form the basis of discussion at a planning committee, for the committee to be left to labour under the false impression they are discussing a council report, for planners to blatantly lie to the committee and say healthy trees are in a poor state of health. Officials did not correct councillors when they though they were discussing a report from their own tree officer. The tree report crucial as it was, was not included in the Agenda.

Planning officials blatantly lied when they said trees were in a poor state of health. That no doubt is why they were so keen to see the trees destroyed. Get rid if the evidence.

If the Council feels its staff have acted properly, then let us have an independent inquiry into head of planning Keith Holland, case officer Sarita Jones, and tree officer Ian May.

In the light of all what has happened, local people have remained remarkably cool. Even a senior police officer present last week when the trees were destroyed, thanked those present for remaining peaceful.

I have seen people seething with anger over the trees being cut down on Firgrove Green, on seeing a public footpath crossing the green unlawfully blocked, on local businesses threatened with destruction. I have yet to see anyone loose their temper. Under the circumstances, it is remarkable people have kept their cool.

It is not only Farnborough. Across the country, people are saying enough is enough, they have had enough of corrupt councils in bed with developers and Big Business trashing their towns and countryside. People of Britain are concluding, like a hobbit in The Lord of the Rings ‘If we all got angry together, something might be done.’

Occupy Firgrove: Destruction of the trees

July 26, 2013
trees in the morning

trees in the morning

Save Firgrove Green Betrayed by Rushmoor

Save Firgrove Green Betrayed by Rushmoor

agent for Bride Hall ordering folk off the green

agent for Bride Hall ordering folk off the green

Right of Way Across Firgrove Illegally Blocked

Right of Way Across Firgrove Illegally Blocked

they film us we film them

they film us we film them

fencers at work

fencers at work

Healthy Trees Felled by Rushmoor Council Lies

Healthy Trees Felled by Rushmoor Council Lies

massive support from passers by

massive support from passers by

camera shy Knight Security boss

camera shy Knight Security boss

cutting down trees

cutting down trees

Healthy Trees Felled by Rushmoor Council Lies

Healthy Trees Felled by Rushmoor Council Lies

dog left all day in hot truck

dog left all day in hot truck

Healthy Trees Felled by Rushmoor Council Lies

Healthy Trees Felled by Rushmoor Council Lies

healthy trees reduced to a pile of logs

healthy trees reduced to a pile of logs

camera shy Knight security

camera shy Knight security

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

Last month a planning application was passed to demolish three local shops, and an Indian restaurant at Firgrove Parade in Farnborough. This would also render homeless the people living in the flats above, flats that are in very poor state of repair.

The planning committee were told it was not of their concern they can go somewhere else, another town maybe.

Adjacent to the site a grassy green with trees, crossed by public footpaths. Used by local people for decades. It has proven popular in the last few weeks, as people seek out the shade of the trees.

Firgrove Green is the only green space in the town centre. It is earmarked for destruction for a 80-bedroom Premier Inn hotel.

This is what in Farnborough is jokingly called town centre regeneration, destroy green space, cut down trees, destroy local businesses. George Orwell would be proud of this use of newspeak.

At the planning meeting, the committee was whipped into line by the head of planning. The committee was told the trees were in a poor state of health. And just in case they had not got the message, they were told there were no planning grounds to reject the application, and if they did, it would be lost at appeal.

Surprise, surprise, the trees are in a healthy state, nothing like they were described to the planning committee.

Two weeks ago, tree surgeons arrived to cut down the trees. Local people alerted to what was happening descended on the site. The tree surgeons managed to cut down three trees, an apple and two flowering cherries. All three healthy trees. Even the tree surgeons tasked to cut down the trees, were forced to admit, these were healthy trees.

Since then, the local community has been on high alert. They suspected the greedy developer Bride Hall would not give up. They were proven correct.

On Sunday, Knight Security started trying to remove cars under the false threat people would be fined. This could only mean one thing, Bride Hall wanted to bring in a lorry to fence the site, possibly even bring in a bulldozer or a digger to trash the site.

Before 7pm Wednesday morning, Knight Security turned up mob handed. But they were too late, local people were already on the green. A large number of police turned up, including riot police. The police were filming protesters, protesters filming the police.

The tree surgeons turned up. They drove a truck at high speed onto the site, putting protesters at serious risk of injury, and stopped very close to protesters. Fencers turned up and started to fence in the protesters. Passers by, so angry at what they saw happening, joined the protesters on the site.

A woman claiming to be an agent acting for the developer, ordered everyone off site. She refused to identify who she was. Inspector Justin Browne of Hampshire Police, then asked everyone to leave. If they refused, he would have arrested and charged for aggravated trespass. At this point, everyone decided to leave, as nothing was going to be served by being arrested. Everyone though still remained but outside the fenced off area. A group of kids outside the fenced off area, on a public right of way, were threatened with arrest. A report in the Farnborough News that protesters were evicted from the site not true.

A public right of way was unlawfully blocked. The police were asked to deal with this. They refused.

Bride Hall has not yet been issued with planning consent, and yet they have started work by clearing the site and fencing it off. In a press release, they said they would not be starting work until 2014. They told the local rag, they would not be starting for three years.

Why start now? It can only be to destroy the evidence of healthy trees on the site.

Keith Holland, head of planning at the Rotten Borough of Rushmoor, was asked to serve enforcement action, as no planning consent had been issued to Bride Hall.

His response:

Having visited the site earlier today, I saw no sign of any development commencing on site. Temporary fencing had been erected to secure the site for health and safety reasons, whilst contractors removed trees from the site. The trees are on private land and are not covered by a tree preservation order. The removal of the trees does not constitute the start of development and no planning breach has occurred, as far as I could see.

He claims not part of the work. The plans show a 80-bedroom Premier Inn hotel on the green where the trees are growing. Or is Keith Holland agreeing with the protesters, that this work was to destroy the evidence that he blatantly lied to the committee?

He also states no TPOS on the trees. And why are there no TPOs? Because the local tree officer who seems incapable of differentiating a healthy tree from an unhealthy tree, refused to serve TPOs. And who does the tree officer work for? Why none other than the head of planning. And like his boss, he is a liar. He claimed in an e-mail, a copy of which was sent to his boss, he could not serve TPOs as planning consent had been issued. Planning consent has not been issued,

Thus we go round and round in circles.

He also contradicts the temporary borough solicitor Jeremy Rosen who wrote:

Your request for an emergency Tree Preservation Order is noted.  However, I have to inform you that the Council has no intention of making any such TPO. 
 
The reason for this is that the proposed works to the trees have already been considered by the Council’s Development Control Committee as part of the wider planning application for the redevelopment of Firgove Parade.  As you know, the Committee resolved to grant consent to the proposed development, which includes the removal of the existing trees.
 
Therefore, having followed the proper process, the Council has already decided to permit the removal of the existing trees.  It would therefore be inappropriate and indeed preserve for the Council to now make a TPO which would effectively reverse its earlier decision regarding the trees and make it impossible to implement the planning permission.

One says cutting down the trees nothing to do with the development. The other says TPOs cannot be served on the trees as would stop the development going ahead.

But this is what happens when you weave a web of lies, the web unravels and it is very difficult to keep your story straight.

The tree surgeons have cut all but two of the trees down.

They were expected to return in the morning, but no sign of them either yesterday or today.

Looking at the tree stumps and logs these were healthy trees that have been cut down.

One tree has been spared because it has a nesting pigeon. It is an offence under the Wildlife and Countryside Act, to disturb a nesting bird, its nest, its young or its eggs.

Why did the tree surgeons return? They were given little choice. They were threatened with breach of contract, contractors charging three times the rate would have been employed, and they would have had to foot the bill.

The tree surgeons came all the way down from Luton. Local tree surgeons would not touch the contract.

Local people are extremely angry at what is happening. The one exception, a pathetic and rather unpleasant racist troll with an unhealthy interest in pictures of children, who if he keeps harassing people, under various fake IDs, will soon find himself served a Harassment Order. The only other, councillors and their officials who act in the interest of developers and Big Business, not the local community, local businesses.

The following night the Council met behind closed doors to discuss the Rushmoor Corruption Plan, oops sorry Rushmoor Corporate Plan, it states how much they value green space. There must be a hidden clause: Unless it is coveted by a developer, then our tree officer will condemn all healthy trees and we will rubber-stamp your planning application.

For the people of Farnborough, this was their Gezi Park moment, as in Istanbul, a green area in town, the only green area, being destroyed for development, by a corrupt council in bed with developers.

Local people are now calling for a boycott of Premier Inn and Costa, both owned by Whitbread.

To keep up to date, please follow on twitter

and on facebook

Note: All photos apart from the last two, courtesy Glenn.

A society grows great …

July 23, 2013
when old men plant trees

when old men plant trees

A society grows great when old men plant trees whose shade they know they shall never sit in.

Thanks to Pandora.

Firgrove Parade: Bride Hall press release

July 21, 2013

Bride Hall gets go-ahead for Farnborough hotel

Save Firgrove Parade

Save Firgrove Parade

Save Firgrove Parade

Save Firgrove Parade

Bride Hall secured planning consent for the development of an 80 bed Premier Inn hotel and Beefeater restaurant on the 19th June. Plans were submitted earlier this year for a new hotel and restaurant in Farnborough Town Centre as well as the provision of new retail and residential space. The plans secured unanimous approval at Rushmoor Borough Council’s planning committee on the 19th and are due to start on site early in 2014.

Nick Desmond, Managing Director of Bride Hall Holdings, said:

“Our plans are positive news for Farnborough and I am delighted Farnborough’s councillors have backed our commitment to the town. The scheme will pump millions into the local economy, create new opportunities for many, and contribute to the town’s long-term success. We will work swiftly to deliver the benefits.”

“Our plans for the redevelopment of Firgrove Parade are in line with council planning policy and will bring many long-term benefits to the town. The new Premier Inn hotel and Beefeater restaurant will create new jobs and encourage more people to stay overnight in Farnborough town centre, boosting the local economy. Firgrove Parade needs fresh investment and our plans will revamp the existing units into modern retail and residential accommodation and create an attractive entrance into Farnborough town centre. It is exciting news for the town.”

When ever I hear the name Bride Hall, I think of a brooding Gothic mansion, in a low budget Gothic horror film, with Nick Desmond as the evil ugly twisted bastard holed up in the house.

Contrary to the wild claims by Nick Desmond, Bride Hall is not pumping millions into the local economy. He clearly has no understanding of the workings or function of a local economy.

A local economy is all the monetary exchanges that take place within a local economy. A vibrant local economy is money circulating within the local economy.

A Beefeater Grill and a Premier Inn hotel, both owned by Whitbread (who also own Costa) will drain money out of the economy.

Nor is Bride Hall investing millions into Farnborough. Building an unwanted Beefeater Grill and Premier Inn hotel is not investing in Farnborough, it is Bride Hall out to make a fast buck throwing up an eyesore.

Investing in Farnborough would be to build a swimming pool or an arts centre.

Bride Hall in Farnborough is not positive news for Farnborough. That is why people want Bride Hall to sling their hook. Bride Hall may have the council in their pocket, they have not bought the people.

How will it create opportunities for many? A handful of low paid jobs for immigrants. Loss of trade for local hotels and B&Bs.

The plans are not good for the local economy, the plans will drain money out of the local economy.

Having seen St Modwen with the help of council collusion, trash the town centre, it is now the turn of Bride Hall to trash the town centre.

It will not be an attractive entrance into the town centre, an entrance to a service road. The ugly 80-bedroom hotel will be an eyesore on the northern edge of the town centre. It will destroy the only remaining trees and green space in the town centre.

The retail development will destroy four existing businesses: an Indian restaurant that has a good reputation and is very popular locally, a long established photographic shop that has been over fifty years in business, over twenty years on this location, a Nepalese general store that has already been forced out of business, and a newly established barber shop, the only one in town and already acquiring a good reputation.

Plans for these developments were submitted earlier this year. Long before that, behind closed doors, Bride Hall have been doing grubby little deals to ensure their plans get pushed through including quashing of a restrictive covenant that would have stopped their development going ahead.

The development is as exciting as squandering a million pounds repaving Queensmead.

Bride Hall is a slum landlord. They have neglected Firgrove Parade and let it fall into poor state of repair.

Bride Hall own The Tumbledown Dick just around the corner. It was a very popular live music venue. It has been closed and boarded up for several years. It is now in a very poor state of repair. The local Council should be serving enforcement notices, but they would not of course wish to offend their developer friends.

Bride Hall are trying to demolish The Tumbledown Dick and turn it into an unwanted Drive-Thru McDonald’s.

To keep up to date, please follow on twitter

and on facebook

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

Urban Tree Benefits

July 21, 2013
Urban Tree Benefits

Urban Tree Benefits

– lower stress

– increase walking

– moderate temperature extremes

– provide shade

– scrub pollutants out of the air

– decrease incidents of flash flooding

– provide habitats for wild life

– provide a sense of place and community

– soften the harsh urban environment

– cut noise levels

– enhance the quality of life

And yet how often do we see new trees being planted, how often do we see trees being destroyed?

At Firgrove Parade in Farnborough, the only green space with trees in the town centre, is being destroyed to satisfy the insatiable greed of a property developer, aided and abetted by planners who lied about the state of the trees.

No 1 Top Story in Thinking Cities (Sunday 21 July 2013).

Occupy Firgrove: Picnic on the green

July 20, 2013
Occupy Firgrove picnic

Occupy Firgrove picnic

Firgrove Green is now being used for various activities. People meeting up of an evening or druring the day, a cool place to meet during the recent spell of hot weather, office workers having their lunch.

Today it was a picnic, a celebration of a graduation.

But greedy developers Bride Hall, aided and abetted by the Rotten Borough of Rushmoor (as it is known locally), want to destroy the green and its trees, the only green space in Farnborough town centre, for an ugly 80-bedroom Premier Inn hotel.

According to Rotten Borough of Rushmoor chief executive Andrew Lloyd, the site looks tired and in need of development. Not a view shared by local residents and those who use the green.

Firgrove Parade: Rushmoor press release

July 17, 2013
Save Firgrove Parade

Save Firgrove Parade

Save Firgrove Parade

Save Firgrove Parade

The history of the Firgrove Parade site can be understood by looking at it from three perspectives, the original sale of the land, the Council’s strategic planning and economic growth policies and the recent planning application.

Land sale and covenant

In 1987, Rushmoor Borough Council sold the current Firgrove Parade site and some adjoining land to Bride Hall for £600,000.

At this time, a covenant was put in place to protect the Council’s interests by ensuring that a fair share of any future profits from the redevelopment of the land came back to the Council to support the provision of public services.

Due to the current financial climate, there has been a recent renegotiation of the financial arrangements, again to protect Rushmoor Borough Council’s interests on any redevelopment of the site. These new arrangements secure 25% of any future uplift in value of the site following development for the Council.

Strategic planning and economic growth

The council has a strategic role to enable the future growth and prosperity of its town centres, including Farnborough.

The Farnborough Town Prospectus was agreed in May 2012 following public consultation. This built on the Farnborough Town Centre Supplementary Planning document (adopted in 2007) and identified Firgrove Parade and the adjoining space as a key gateway site which would benefit from redevelopment. The prospectus envisaged that this could be a mixed-use scheme offering a range of commercial, leisure and retail space.

Planning application

In February, Bride Hall submitted a planning application which was fully in accordance with current planning policy. The Council, in its role as Local Planning Authority, considered and approved the application in June after public consultation. This development will represent a significant investment in the town.

In terms of the protesters’ concerns about the trees, as with many planning permissions, there is often a balance between development and protection of the existing environment. The trees are not covered by a Tree Preservation Order, but there’s no doubt that they add some amenity value. However we need to weigh this up with the investment benefits that the new development will bring to Farnborough.

In terms of a public right of way crossing the land, as with other developments, as long as there is an alternative route then the right of way can be extinguished or rerouted, provided the proper procedures are followed.

— Andrew Lloyd, chief executive, Rotten Borough of Rushmoor

How kind of Andrew Lloyd to issue a press release on Firgrove Parade. Shame he fails to address any of the issues.

Andrew Lloyd is past master at saying something without saying anything. This press release issued yesterday, is a classic example, as it is basically waffle.

We are told that ‘due to the current financial climate, there has been a recent renegotiation of the financial arrangements’.

What does that mean, it does not say? Has the borough got a better deal, it does not say? What we do know is that the Cabinet met October 2012 and quashed the existing restrictive covenant. They did so behind closed doors, therefore we do not know what grubby little deal was cooked up. They did so without any consultation with the public. What we do know is that the existing restrictive covenant was ‘onerous’ for the developer, and that was why it was quashed. What we do know is that the quashing of the restrictive covenant was squashed on payment of £1000 by the developer Bride Hall. What we also know is that the previous year before the restrictive covenant was quashed, Bride Hall in an exchange of e-mails demanded of the Council that they quashed the restrictive covenant as it would otherwise stop their development taking place.

This paints a different picture to what Lloyd is telling us of the Council negotiating a better deal. It would appear from Lloyd is telling us, and from what we already know, that Lloyd is not telling the truth.

We are told the town has to grow. The obvious question is why? And we are told this is the strategic gateway into the town, ie a back service road into a Sainsbury’s car park.

To date the town centre has been trashed, raped may be a better word, to satisfy the rapacious greed of a developer. A large number of independent business have been destroyed for a Sainsbury’s supermarket, an estate of 28 maisonettes social housing destroyed for a car park for the Sainsbury’s supermarket. We are left with a Poundland, tax-dodging Starbucks selling rubbish coffee, a tattoo parlour, a few High Street chains, charity shops and boarded-up shop units. £1 million of tax-payers money is being squandered on poorly laid paving slabs which no one sees as an improvement.

This is called town centre regeneration. George Orwell would be proud of this use of newspeak.

Into this mix steps Bride Hall, with a planning application to destroy the only remaining green area in the town centre for an unwanted 80-bedroom Premier Inn hotel and a block that will destroy four remaining small businesses (one of which as already been forced out). The gateway into the town, ie into a service road, will be an ugly Premier Inn hotel, that in mass and bulk and height, will dominate the site, a site that is currently open green space with trees.

A budget hotel, when there is another budget hotel a few minutes walk down the road, is clearly of little benefit to the town. A budget hotel that will only have seven car parking spaces.

Lloyd says ‘as with many planning permissions, there is often a balance between development and protection of the existing environment’. No attempt was made to achieve a balance. We have a harsh ugly urban environment, with the green area and the trees helping to give some respite.

It is true the trees have no TPOs, trees which Lloyd admits have amenity value, and to his credit he does not repeat the lie peddled at the planning committee that the trees are in a poor state of health.

As the trees have no TPOs, are at risk, then why does not Lloyd instruct that Emergency TPOs be served.

The investment brings no benefits to Farnborough, but we lose valuable green space, the trees on a busy junction helping to keep the air clean.

Lloyd correctly recognises that no development can take place whilst public rights of way cross the land, and if these are to be extinguished proper procedures must be followed, to which he should have added, these can be challenged.

As Lloyd recognises public rights of way cross the land, he must make it clear contractors cannot obstruct these rights of way, as tree surgeons did last week when they tried to cut down the trees.

Lloyd fails to address the most important issues, and presumably because he cannot, and that is that the planning application was predetermined by the quashing of the restrictive covenant in October 2012 to facilitate a development for which an application had not yet been submitted and the discussion which took place with the developer before that where the developers was demanding the restrictive covenant be quashed as it would stop their development taking place.

Lloyd has failed to address a related issue of the restrictive covenant which if had not been quashed would have stopped a multimillion pound development, that of it being quashed for a mere £1000.

Lloyd has failed to address the destruction of four local businesses, the Firgrove 4, but then Lloyd has never had an interest in local, family run business. Indeed for more than a decade Lloyd has been pursuing a policy of ethnic cleansing of small, independent, family run businesses from local town centres within the borough, as we have seen in Aldershot and Farnborough.