Posts Tagged ‘Firgrove Green’

Public Inquiry Firgrove Green Stopping-up Order

September 3, 2014
Firgrove Green

Firgrove Green

We would not be here if Rushmoor head of planning had not lied on the state of the trees, if spineless councillors on the planning committee did their job and questioned what was put before them.

Planning consent was granted last summer to destroy Firgrove Green for an unwanted 80-bed Premier Inn Hotel, and to destroy the four businesses at Firgrove Parade.

Almost immediately, tree surgeons were on the green cutting down the trees. The green was fenced off and the footpath running diagonally across the green, a popular short cut into town, illegally blocked off.

Bride Hall have been forced to apply for a Stopping-Up Order on the footpath, as otherwise, their unwanted development cannot go ahead.

The meeting started with barrister dumping several new documents. The correct procedure then should have been to either refuse the documents, or for the inquiry to be adjourned.

Following opening statements by the chairman, a long presentation by a so-called highways expert acting for the developer.

He came across as a clueless idiot.

He claimed, the path across the green was not safe, as badly lit at night and that those crossing the green were not observed. The impression given was that of going down a dangerous muggers alley.

He also claimed the route around the green was shorter, that it was the better route, and that it was safer.

Under cross examination, it was shown he had misled the inquiry. Having claimed there was no informal observation of the green, he was asked had he made a site visit? He said he had. He was then asked had he not noticed the CCTV? It was also drawn to his attention, the residential properties that overlook the green.

For some perverse reason, the ‘highways expert’ objected to a site notice that the footpath was to be closed for yet another unwanted hotel. Under cross examination, he was no clearer. Especially as part of their argument why they should be granted the Stopping-Up Order, was because they wished to build their hotel.

This also indicates a serious flaw in the entire process. At planning, committee instructed to ignore loss of a public right of way. At Public Inquiry, the demand is that loss of the public right of way be automatically granted on the grounds planning has been granted.

Objectors gave their views, the footpath gave a convenient short cut, has been in use over a very long period of time, it was safer as not likely to be jostled into a busy road, that fencing off of the green and illegal obstruction of the footpath gave the opportunity to observe what it would be like.

The highway expert, had produced a quick ball park figure, which would indicate few people on the footpath around the green. This did not match what local people had observed. He was also forced to admit there had been no survey carried out of the number of people actually using the various paths.

He was asked could he produce any crime data to support his assertion the path across the green was not safe. He admitted he could not.

Each objector was cross examined by the barrister for the developer. Much of his questioning was of no relevance as he referred to their objection to the planning application. The chairman in his opening statement, had made very clear, we could not go over the grounds of the planning application, a decision had been made to grant planning, and that could not be reversed. All we could consider were matters relevant to the public right of way. And yet, the chairman failed to intervene.

The second line of questioning, was to ask, is a wider path not preferable, is a path well lit not preferable, is it not better to walk a safer route?

A moment of light relief, Rushmoor lack more than a couple of brain cells to rub together.

The barrister made much in his cross-examination, that the path across the green, was narrower than that around the green, were it to be fenced in. This was challenged by one of the objectors. What was under discussion, was the legal right to cross the green, not the width of a specific path, the highway authority could choose to widen the path, and it would be churlish of the developer to fence it in and deny access to the green. The barrister wisely chose not to cross-examine on these points.

In his summing up, the barrister gave the impression Bride Hall was a benign organisation, their only interest in the stopping-up, to direct people around a safer route. His view of safe, was different to that of objectors, who do not regard safe, being jostled into a busy road.

He also summarised, that as Bride Hall had planning permission (the application being fairly handled by Rushmoor), then it was only proper they be granted a Stopping-Up Order, else their hotel could not go ahead.

The formal part of the inquiry was then closed.

There then followed a site visit. No additional information could be supplied. But, attention could be drawn to various aspects relating to the inquiry, for example CCTV and apartments overlooking the site, The Tumbledown Dick which will generate additional foot traffic.

The objectors made a very good case. They were also able to expose the flaws in the developers case. They had a fair hearing, which is more than can ever be said before Rushmoor planning committee.

The Planning Inspector now has to write a report and present his findings to the Secretary of State. The Secretary of State then grants or does not grant the Stopping-Up Order.

Present: a member of the planning committee, a planning official and a local troll who delights in posting abuse.

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.

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.

Occupy Firgrove Press Conference

July 15, 2013
Save Firgrove Green Betrayed by Rushmoor

Save Firgrove Green Betrayed by Rushmoor

This Green Space is Being Destroyed for Another Empty Hotel!

This Green Space is Being Destroyed for Another Empty Hotel!

Restrictive Covenant Sold for £1000

Restrictive Covenant Sold for £1000

Stop the Chop at Firgrove

Stop the Chop at Firgrove

On Friday, the local community successfully occupied the green at Firgrove Parade and stopped the trees being cut down. At 10 am this morning they held a press conference with Amy Hopkins of the Farnborough News.

Amy spent about two hours talking to everyone, but then asked could everyone please stay as a press photographer was turning up at 12-30.

Lunchtime, many office workers came by, they were all interested in what was happening. They were unanimous in their support, this is the only green space we have, they were also critical of the paving in Queensmead which they saw as a waste of money, and saw Farnborough as a dump.

During the afternoon a councillor came by and gave his support. He said he was none too happy with what was going on, the loss of green space, loss of trees, and that other councilors were not happy either. He was able to see the trees were healthy and that planning officials had lied.

But if councillors are not happy, then the onus is on them to instruct officers to serve Tree Preservation Orders and they should clean up their planning department. And if they want to have a chat, they know where to find people, on the green, safeguarding the trees.

At the planning meeting where consent was given to Bride Hall to build an unwanted 80-bedroom Premier Inn hotel on this site, councillors questioned why they were being told healthy trees were in a poor state of health, questioned the competence and integrity of their own tree officer, questioned why he was not present to answer their questions. They were not corrected that they were labouring under the false impression that the tree report had been produced by their own officials, a tree report that was not included in the agenda, a tree report that had been produced by the developer Bride Hall.

The tree surgeons tasked to destroy the trees, expressed incredulity that they were being asked to cut down healthy trees.

Concerned local residents who contacted the council tree officer Friday, had still as of Monday evening, not had the courtesy of a reply.

Bride Hall who are trying to destroy this green site, are also trying to demolish The Tumbledown Dick for a Drive-Thru McDonald’s.

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