Posts Tagged ‘trees’

Aldershot: Where have all the trees gone?

February 11, 2015
 stark urban street once tree-lined

stark urban street once tree-lined

Aldershot is a not particularly pleasant town. Its one redeeming feature, the trees lining Union Street.

On a pleasant day, late afternoon, sat outside Caffe Macchiato with a coffee, look down the street, if ignore the tacky shop fronts, the fast food takeways, the boarded-up shops, the roughs on the streets, the cars driving down the street, you could at a pinch, visualise a tree-lined avenue in Paris, or Lisbon, or Athens.

Now it has nothing, the trees have been cut down and uprooted.

These were mature trees.

During the summer, the trees provided much needed shade when walking down the street. Now will have the unpleasant heat of a stark urban environment.

It begs the question, why were the trees pollarded at the end of last year, if they were going to be cut down?

£4.5 million is being spent on repaving Union Street, widening footpath on Grosvenor Road, cosmetic changes to a multi-story car park. Money down the drain, money which will do nothing to improve Aldershot.

The trees made a difference, they have now been destroyed.

A water pipe is being laid down the centre of Union Street. Much of the street is fenced off, not possible to walk from one side of the street to the other. Net result, people will not bother. Next, they will not bother to visit Aldershot.

Retailers and restaurants are already see a drop in trade.

Since Christmas, three shops have closed or are about to close. Quids In, Roman Originals, Shelter. When charity shops pull out, things are dire.

The nearby park, has become a no-go area due to knife wielding Nepalese thugs.

It can only get worse when the street is dug up to replace the paving slabs.

The only good news, Union Street, a pedestrianised street, has been closed to traffic whilst the work takes place. Will closure be permanent?

Pollarding trees

August 11, 2013


Alighting at Godalming Station on my way to Music in the Park, I stopped and had a chat with the tree surgeons who I had spoken to the week before. They were pollarding trees.

They told me they carried out work at the station, and had to work over the weekend, as too many cars during the week.

I told them of a willow tree in Westbury Way in Aldershot, that had been baldy pollarded, leaving branches sticking out. They were horrified, and confirmed my suspicion of a cowboy with a chain saw (or acting under bad instructions from a council tree officer who knows nothing about trees). They said this was asking for trouble, the tree would become diseased.

A tree has to be cut right back. When trimming a tree, cutting off branches, cut back to the collar, which then heals over (though first leave a stub, then cut off the stub).

They were only pollarding some of the trees (though the others did need need pollarding), as it would be too much of a shock. The trees were in a Conservation Area, planning permission had to be sought (which took six weeks to obtain). They expected to return in three years to pollard the trees again.

The bottom has dropped out of the wood chip market. The wood chips they were spraying back over the land. The logs were neatly stacked for anyone to take them if they wanted them.

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.

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.

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 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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Activists save trees at Firgrove Parade

July 12, 2013
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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Wintry day at Guildford farmers market

December 4, 2012
Guildford farmers market

Guildford farmers market

The grass was wet this morning, no frost. Whether it had been frosty, raining or heavy dew, I do not know.

Walking along the River Wey, it had dropped a couple of feet or more compared with a week ago.

I looked in Debenhams. Only turkey, no roast pork, which is what I was looking forward to.

Blocking access to the dropped curb as cross Quarry Street is a large A-board. It has been there every day since mid-October. Guildford know about it, Surrey know about it, but worthless jobsworth at Surrey would rather sit on their backsides and wait until a frail elderly person trips over it and fractures a few bones. Card Aid should be prosecuted for wilful highway obstruction.

An interesting stall of wood carvings, new to the market. The guy, Matthew Crabb, had come up from Somerset. He had a couple of folders of his work. Amazing wood carvings, often entire trees in situ. I suggested he may wish to contact Godalming Museum as they may be interested in exhibiting his work. I also suggested take a trip downstream along the River Wey as there are some wood carvings.

Off the Celtic baker, a loaf, a blueberry flapjack, and I thought I would try a couple of his mince pies.

A stall sells pies of various kinds. They are very good. Last month I got a pasty. I settled down looking forward to it for my tea, only to find I had left it on the stall. I told the lady, and she said help yourself to another one.

Off a Game stall (game as in pheasants not computers) four of his sausages. Very expensive, a pound per kilo (or maybe more) than Gloucester Old Spot (a rare breed pig) from Waitrose. A pity he is restricted to fancy highly spiced foreign sausages. But, last least like the butcher on North Street on the Friday street market, everything is loose. Pre-packed on a farmers market goes against everything a farmers market stands for.

As does serving hot food in McBurger boxes. This is totally unacceptable and there is no excuse for doing so, as there are alternatives on the market that are recyclable. Polystyrene goes to either landfill or incineration. Food for Thought in Covent Garden uses recyclable containers, as does Iydea in North Laine in Brighton.

I was pleased to see Kai Jansen back in the High Street playing his guitar. The last time I saw him was in Alton, and that was a year ago at least. We had a chat about bandcamp. I said it was a must for his music, he gets as good deal, as do the fans who wish to listen to, share and download his music, and it gets him known to a much wider audience than playing in Guildford High Street.

I was pleased to see the stalls selling wine and beer are now back to their usual pitches, not as November farmers market. They have to periodically move because only twelve markets are licensed, thus have to then do an additional licence. Whilst it is no problem in terms of setting up a stall, it is a problem in terms of lost business for people used to finding stall in a specific location.

By no means the fault of the market organiser. This is people who licence the market playing the fool. It is not as though we have drunken scum on the street in contrast to the problems caused by the large bars on Bridge Street on a Friday and Saturday night to which the same licensing fools turn a blind eye even though it turns Guildford town centre into a no-go area as it is ok if Big Business is making money. It is only the Street Angels who are keeping the lid on.

I was pleased to see different stalls trade between themselves. Maybe take this further, a distribution system with produce from all the suppliers. Worth thinking about.

I want to scream when I see stall holders with a cup of coffee from Costa in their hands. If they want us to support small producers, then they should do the same. Go up the High Street to Tunsgate. Go into Tunsgate, walk to the end, and there on the left, just before Ben’s Records, is Gluton & Glee, from where you can get real coffee.

Always support indie coffee shops, not chains like Costa or Starbucks (who dodge tax).

It was a very cold day, with a very cold wind blowing. If I stopped at any stall for more than a few minutes, I felt very cold. I felt sorry for those running the stalls.

Too cold to hang about on the street. I walked back down the High Street to take lunch at Debenhams. A big mistake. I should have gone to the Thai restaurant top of the High Street in Jeffies Passage or carried on over the Bridge and to the Keystone behind St Nicolas Church. No turkey left, only a scraggly bit of chicken, vegetables cold, tables not cleared and dirty.

I decided to hop on a bus to Godalming and have tea and cake in Cafe Mila. Had I been a minute earlier or people at the bus stop I would have caught the bus that sailed past. I did not fancy waiting 15 minutes in the cold for the next bus (and that is assuming on time).

I retraced my steps, back over the bridge. I was going to ask in Starbucks, was it true, their appalling working condition, but it was very busy. What is wrong with people, do they not care Starbucks dodges tax, serves lousy coffee?

I looked in Waterstone’s. One solitary copy of NeverSeconds.

Then walk to the station and catch a train.

Guildford holds a farmers market in the High Street on the first Tuesday of the month. The next farmers market will be February 2013.

Guildford farmers market has a facebook page, but if you work at the council you are not allowed to look at it. You are not allowed to look at this blog either.

Christmas Tree Festival at St Mark’s

November 27, 2010
Christmas tree festival at St Mark's

Christmas tree festival at St Mark's

I did not know I was going to a Christmas Tree Festival, I thought I was going to a Christmas Fayre, you know what I mean, stalls, Christmas Cards, mince pies and tea. I did not even know what a Christmas Tree Festival was. I am still not sure.

As I headed towards the church hall I saw that the lights were on in the church. Maybe that is where it is I thought, looked in the church hall and my suspicions were confirmed when I saw what appeared to be a yoga class, definitely not a Christmas Fayre. I headed over to the church, pushed open the door and it took my breath away.

The church was packed. Stalls everywhere. A choir singing. Christmas trees everywhere. And something I had never seen, the church lit up inside at night. St Mark’s is red brick Victorian, from the outside not worth a second glance, but inside, yes, well worth visiting.

I said hello to the vicar, then sorry I must dash, got to go home to get my camera. I ran home and back, probably not a wise thing to do, as below freezing, but luckily it had been very dry for a few days and therefore not icy underfoot, at least not under my feet.

To think I almost did not go. I was thinking why have a Christmas Fayre in the evening when it is cold and no one wants to venture out, why not have it in the daytime when less cold. But I could see why it was at night, and yes, people did venture out. My only regret not going on time and not taking my camera. By the time I got back people were already leaving and I just caught the tail end of the choir.

My other regret was that my lovely friend Sian was not there.

I have never come across a Christmas Tree Festival before. This is a four day event. The market on Friday night, Saturday night Jazz-funk night with the church turned into a nightclub including a bar (yes, you did not misread), Sunday afternoon a Christingle Service with candles, then afternoon tea on Monday.

I would have loved to have gone to the Jazz-funk night with my lovely friend Sian but sadly she has not been well. Maybe she will be up to it. Going on my own without her is no fun.

And yes there was tea and mince pies. And there was mulled wine, but I did not get around to either. I was too busy chatting to people.

I talked to several people about the sale of Israeli so-called Peace Oil on sale in St Mary’s Church in Guildford. All agreed it was a scandal. [see Peace oil or taking the piss?]

The money raised from the Christmas Tree Festival will go to the repair fund as the roof is leaking.

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