Wednesday, 25 March 2009

Defend the Tree Preservation Order

The landowner's objection to the Woodland Tree Preservation that currently protects Grove Wood will be considered by the Council's development control committee at 2pm on Wednesday 1st April. There are two things you can do to help.

1) Write to the Council requesting them to CONFIRM the Woodland Tree Preservation Order without any changes to it. The TPO is needed to protect the woods. The Council's own response to his objections are very strong and Snuff Mills Action Group agrees with their analysis.
You can see the Council's response and read the landowner's objections by following this link:
http://www.bristol.gov.uk/item/committeecontent/?ref=wa&code=wa003&year=2009&month=04&day=01&hour=14&minute=00
Just click on the blue bit next to Grove Wood agenda item.

Send your comments to democratic.services@bristol.gov.uk by 12noon on 31st March. Please be polite and courteous in your comments as this will go a long way with the Councillors.
Please also email us your comments so we can post it on this website for others to see - anonymously if you prefer. We will post our response to the objection to the TPO on here as soon as it is completed.

2) Protest outside the Council House at 1.40pm on April 1st - please bring banners and placards calling on the Council to stick to its guns and confirm the TPO on Grove Wood. Please let us know if you can come by emailing snuffmills@hotmail.co.uk

All of this is really important as we need to provide as much support to Councillors and show that they will be doing the right thing by protecting the trees in Grove Wood. So please make sure there are as many positive submissions supporting the TPO, by sending in a comment, however short.

35 comments:

sued said...

Medals all round to Councillors & officers for reading through so much verbiage. Difficult to see any real substance in the objections, mostly repetitions of the same complaints.
The reasons for confirming the TPO are more compelling than ever.

stevem said...

Example of a comment sent to Council about the TPO:
Dear Councillors

I am writing to you for your support to keep the Tree Preservation Order for the Trees in Grove Wood, Snuff Mills, Stapleton.

The current land owner has not offered any viable business plan or consulted with any interested parties for his intended future use of this land.

Grove Wood forms an integral part of Snuff Mills and beyond with the wildlife corridor that runs into the City Centre. This natural haven should be preserved for wildlife to exist and future generations to enjoy.
At this time of year numerous forms of wildlife will be in the stages of breeding and some of the countries rarest animals and birds are frequenting this area. Any disturbance or work in this area must be kept to a minimum to protect this important habitat.

Please will the councillors also consider bringing into council ownership Grove wood, as it is with Stoke Park, to provide the protection for these areas that is desperately needed.

Thanking you for your considerations.

stevem said...

Comment to Council from the Chair of Stapleton Conservation Society:

I am writing to ask councillors to support keeping the Tree Preservation Order on Grove Woods, Stapleton. I have lived in Stapleton all of my life and have enjoyed walking in these woods since I was a child. My son, now 30yrs old loved to climb and ramble through them as a boy and I think that it essential to preserve this area for youngsters now and in the future.

Parts of the woodland are "Ancient Woodland" and the area is very important to wildlife - including otters and kingfishers - surely very rare so close to a city centre and anasset for the whole of Bristol. It needs to be very carefully managed by those with appropriate skills and knowledge.

yours faithfully

stevem said...

A comment to Council from a local resident:

o whom it may concern,


I live in Fishponds and regularly walk in Grove Woods.
It is because of this that I know that Grove Wood Preservation Order should be maintained at all costs. Without this green space, so many families and individuals would miss out on a fantastic natural resource, right on their doorstep. The current landowner does not appear to appreciate this fact and has caused untold stress to many because of his seemingly underhand actions in preventing people from entering certain parts of the woods and disturbingly vague plans for the future of this wonderful area.

It is with disappointment that I find myself writing this e-mail of protest when many local people thought that this area would be safeguarded for future generations just a matter of months ago.


Yours faithfully,

stevem said...

Another comment sent to Council:

May we respectfully request the Council confirms the Tree Preservation Order, without any changes, against the landowner in his intention to fell precious and irreplaceable trees.

If the Tree Preservation Order fails, it’s not difficult to see how desecration of this beautiful place will continue, chipped away at until it becomes unrecognisable as somewhere that has been dear to countless of Bristolians since their childhoods.

No-one likes change, but it is often necessary to progress. However, should this landowner succeed, the result will be an absolute step backwards that benefits no-one but himself.

Typifying his uncaring attitude are the facts he has failed to produce a management plan, as promised, or consulted with the local community.

stevem said...

And another one:

Dear Members,

We are writing to ask the Council to confirm the Woodland Tree
Preservation Order on this piece of woodland and much-loved local
amenity.

The owner, Lord Jafari, has done nothing to give any confidence to
local people, that he will manage the land any better in the future
than the past, where he chopped down trees without permission and
placed wildlife at risk. He has not , even now, been prepared to meet local people and enter into any dialogue, otherwise I am sure that he would not judge us as either thugs, or racists, as he seems to imply in his letter.

Neither does he seem to have provided any plan for the future
management of the land. In the past he has, at different times said he would develop it into gardens or a deer park.

We commend the City Council on its action and support the comments
submitted to the Committee. We call upon the Council to confirm the order in its entirety.

The land has been enjoyed and valued by many generations, their
actions will help to protect it and its rich wildlife for many more in the future.

Yours sincerely,

andy-s said...

...and another one:

Dear Committee Members,

I urge you to confirm the TPO that you placed on Grove Woods last year. I believe it was the best decision and the only way to effectively safeguard the trees. I have read Mr Jafari's letters of objection and do not agree with any of his statements regarding his treatment of the trees, the wildlife or his concerns about the general public. You only have to walk along the footpaths to see that he has despoiled what was once a beauty spot by turning the paths into wide and muddy roads, erecting inappropriate Heras fencing and placing a large shipping container at the entrance. It appears he has no intention of making it better, only worse as he seems to have done in other areas of the city. All of his actions to date have been destructive, annoying, threatening to residents and damaging to wildlife. I don't believe he is to be trusted with stewardship of this ancient woodland and would therefore go further and suggest the council purchases the land from him.

stevem said...

And yet more:

Dear Councillors,
I am writing to you,requesting that you confirm the Tree Preservation Order placed on Grove Wood at your meeting on April 1st.
I spoke at the meeting last year, when, you very commendably, placed the TPO on Grove Wood. Since that meeting, (where I expressed my worries and concerns) over the vandalism carried out by the owner, Lord Jafari, in felling trees and bulldozing the undergrowth in this ancient woodland and wildlife haven. Unfortunately I can say that Lord Jafari has not only confimed, but increased those concerns and worries by erecting the most unsightly and inappropriate fencing in this conservation area, therby trying to prevent access to the public. I have known Grove Wood as a resident of Frome Vale for over 50 years. As a child I played there, as a teenager I walked to and from school there, and as an adult have appreciated the natural beauty of this ancient woodland and wildlife haven.
I have read the objections of Lord Jafari, not once did I see any mention of the preservation of the trees or the wildlife. He only seems to interested in the destruction of Grove Wood. I therefore respectfully request that you confirm the TPO on Grove Wood with no alteration.

stevem said...

Yet more:

Dear Sir

I understand that you will be considering the landowner's objections to the Woodland Tree Preservation order for Grove Wood on 1st April.

May I ask you to confirm the order without any changes to it please? The previous actions of the landowner lead me to suspect that their plans for Grove Wood do not match their public statements.Why should it be necessary for fencing to be erected? These woods have been used for generations without any health and safety issues to my knowledge. The only issue I can see is if the fencing falls and hurts someone, or work done by the landowners imperils the public. The paths though the wood have been used by the public for generations and it is a scandal that the rights of way have now been closed off.

Likewise, the argument that the fences will deter animals from falling in the river is plainly ludicrous. This ancient woodland has been a home for many animals, birds, insects and reptiles for hundreds if not thousands of years and I do not recall reports of umpteen bodies of drowned animals being found in the river, do you?

In fact the work that has been carried out by the landowners has more likely displaced or led to the demise of more wildlife than has happened in the last twenty years at least.

Why have the landowners not issued a management plan for the wood? Nor consulted with the local community? Both should be in place and carried out, subject to approval. If the landowners are genuine in their desire to protect and improve Grove Wood they will not object to producing a management plan nor consulting the community will they? Nor would they object to the existing Woodland Tree Preservation Order.

I cannot help but feel that there is a long term plan to mount some sort of building development in Grove Wood and I must register my strongest objection to this. Therefore, I ask again that the Council confirm the Tree Preservation Order.

Thank you.

stevem said...

More - people have been busy today:

I understand that the TPO is due to be confirmed shortly, and the landowner has objected.

I have tried with difficulty to make sense of the objection letter.

I am quite sure the the TPO should be confirmed .

The important issue is that the TPO protects the site from development, which as a regular user of the valley I would strongly object to.

There is adequate provision within the TPO framework for necessary works to individual trees- similar work was carried out recently to the block TPO'd trees at the back of my home with no objections from myself or others. Perhaps the landowner should be offered additional advice on this.

I look forward to hearing that the order is confirmed shortly

stevem said...

Here's some more:

Sir,

I urge you to do all you can to protect the area of Snuff Mills from development for the enjoyment of not only the local people but also the many people from all over that visit this wonderful place. For me, my Brothers and many of my friends Snuff Mills and Grove Wood hold many, many happy memories. We would spend as many hours and days there as we were able. It was a great part of our growing up from being children and onwards. Even now some seventy years later it still gives me pleasure just to walk along both sides of the river and remember the great times we had there.
Snuff Mills will always be a special place to me and with your help it will continue to be the same for others for years to come.

Sincerely Yours,

Mogz said...

Dear Council Members,
I write in the earnest hope that the TPO so wisely granted last year is confirmed in its entirety. The landowner's actions have thus far been anything but consistent with those of someone who has the woodlands best interests at heart. He has a history of planning breaches and seems to be at odds with his neighbours wherever he has property.
Bristol City Council was right and correct when it applied the TPO and in so doing displayed courage and a real conviction when applying its green credentials.
Last year 4500 people expressed their wish in the petition I submitted that the land be taken into public ownership. This is still their wish and it is the only way to protect the woods and the wildlife therein.
That said, a TPO does certainly not interfere with the landowners responsibility to maintain the PROW, nor does it absolve him of the responsibility of safe and proper woodland management with regard to dangerous trees.
Sincerely,

stevem said...

Here's a really interesting one:

To: Bristol City CouncilDear Councillors,This email is about the urgent need to defend the Grove Wood TreePreservation Order. As a local resident I am requesting that Bristol CityCouncil confirm the Woodland Tree Preservation Order without any changes.The Snuff Mills area is a much loved area of natural beauty and a hugelypopular recreational resource for Bristol residents. It is also part aprecious green corridor of natural greenery, flora and fauna that extendsfrom Hambrook, through Frenchay and Stapleton, to Eastville - which issupports many unique local wildlife habitats and local bio-diversity.Sadly, it is now in very real danger of commercial vandalism. The recenttrack record of the landowner who threatens these woods surely speaksvolumes. His non-compliance with the request for a management plan, hisdisregard for the customary good practice of consulting with the localcommunity, and his previous actions in the woods indicate that he is notto be trusted. As a local parent with three children I place a high valueon these woods. My family regularly go walking and cycling in them - andwe have enjoyed 'bat walks' and 'kingfisher-spotting' walks over theyears. As an senior occupational therapy lecturer at Glenside Campus (atthe University of the West of England) and a Trustee for the nationalcharity 'Horticulture for All' I speak regularly to people all over the UKabout the enormous benefits of natural green environments to the physicaland mental health of individuals and to communities as a whole. As apractising occupational therapist in Bristol I have noted the importanceof these environments in individuals' recovery from mental health problemstoo. That Bristol City Council could contemplate compromising its ownvital natural green environments by considering the objection to the TPOis astounding. It is completely at odds with a city that purports to bebidding to be a European Green Capital - something we ALL surely support.Please confirm the the Woodland Tree Preservation Order as a matter ofurgency. Thank you.Regards,

stevem said...

Here's a really interesting one:

To: Bristol City CouncilDear Councillors,This email is about the urgent need to defend the Grove Wood TreePreservation Order. As a local resident I am requesting that Bristol CityCouncil confirm the Woodland Tree Preservation Order without any changes.The Snuff Mills area is a much loved area of natural beauty and a hugelypopular recreational resource for Bristol residents. It is also part aprecious green corridor of natural greenery, flora and fauna that extendsfrom Hambrook, through Frenchay and Stapleton, to Eastville - which issupports many unique local wildlife habitats and local bio-diversity.Sadly, it is now in very real danger of commercial vandalism. The recenttrack record of the landowner who threatens these woods surely speaksvolumes. His non-compliance with the request for a management plan, hisdisregard for the customary good practice of consulting with the localcommunity, and his previous actions in the woods indicate that he is notto be trusted. As a local parent with three children I place a high valueon these woods. My family regularly go walking and cycling in them - andwe have enjoyed 'bat walks' and 'kingfisher-spotting' walks over theyears. As an senior occupational therapy lecturer at Glenside Campus (atthe University of the West of England) and a Trustee for the nationalcharity 'Horticulture for All' I speak regularly to people all over the UKabout the enormous benefits of natural green environments to the physicaland mental health of individuals and to communities as a whole. As apractising occupational therapist in Bristol I have noted the importanceof these environments in individuals' recovery from mental health problemstoo. That Bristol City Council could contemplate compromising its ownvital natural green environments by considering the objection to the TPOis astounding. It is completely at odds with a city that purports to bebidding to be a European Green Capital - something we ALL surely support.Please confirm the the Woodland Tree Preservation Order as a matter ofurgency. Thank you.Regards,

stevem said...

Sued's comments:

Dear Councillors and Officers

The reasons for applying the TPO to Grove Wood as a whole are as compelling now as they were when the issue was originally considered.

The wood continues to be at risk of further degradation under the current ownership.

The biodiversity of the area would be greatly adversely affected in the event of any more heavy handed “management” activity, such as has been seen in the wood over the past fifteen months.

Nesting kingfishers are extremely vulnerable on the river bank. They were unable to breed successfully last year as a result of insensitive activity by the owner.

Otters have been driven away.

The TPO gives a level of protection apparently not afforded by the other designations applied to the wood, giving more chance for a considered approach to the management of the woodland and its occupants.

Objections to the TPO are insubstantial and vague.

The owner has made unfounded accusations against local residents who have worked hard to try to engage in dialogue with him.

There seems to be no possibility of a rational discussion about the future of the wood, leading to much distrust of the vague and constantly changing future plans claimed by the owner.

The Biodiversity Action Plan should mean that the council prioritises the preservation of key species of which the otter is one.

The TPO helps to ensure they and other species remain relatively undisturbed.

Please confirm the TPO and help preserve this precious oasis of peace and beauty, which is integral to this stretch of the River Frome.

stevem said...

Another one:

Dear Members,

I am writing with reference to the Tree Preservation Order placed on Grove Wood and respectfully ask that it is confirmed in its entirety.

I felt that Bristol City Council showed great conviction when the TPO was applied and that the publics concerns were being addressed - that the wood needs professional management so that it and the wildlife can prosper for many years to come.

To date, I have not seen any activity in the wood by the landowner that would indicate a sympathetic approach to woodland management. The porta-cabin is still present and the Heras fencing is a mess. I have not heard of any indication that the owner would like to communicate his intentions with the community.

As indicated in Mr Jafari's objection letter, it seems that he feels that he has no option but to close, 'Icon Park'. Although he owns the land, I believe the public right of way is still in existence.

4,500 people signed a petition requesting that the Council compulsory purchase the land. I still hope that this can be achieved.

As a law abiding person, I would like to state that I am not part of a, 'mob' and I am not prejudiced through racism as indicated by Mr Jafari's letter to the Committee. I am simply committed to ensuring that Grove Wood has the best management and is sympathetically treated for future generations to enjoy.

stevem said...

A very passionate statement:

"Civic leaders must be 'stewards of the city's environmental resources.'"
-The Rt Hon Hazel Blears MP, Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government, in a speech ‘The Hallmarks of a Sustainable City’ made 5th March 2009
From the Climate Change Act to proposals for new single regional strategies, national government is increasingly calling on leaders at local authority level to recognize the value of safeguarding and improving the green infrastructure of urban areas.
DEFRA has reported ‘The influence of the local environment on the quality of urban life is becoming increasingly recognised. The urban environment must be maintained and improved if towns and cities are to be attractive places in which people want to live and work. Trees are just one element of this local scene. But they can make a tremendous difference to the way we feel about a place and to our sense of well-being because they bring with them multiple benefits.’
Why is the public so interested in the protection of Grove Wood? One view is that people sense that the trees that constitute Grove Wood provide a unique sense of place and contribute to the community’s overall well-being. Lord Jafari’s view on the other hand is that the community’s motivation is more sinister, ‘irrational’ and ‘racist’ as he suggests in his letter to the Planning Committee on 17th November 2008, a ‘mob’ engaged in ‘slanderous public protest.’
As a landowner who purchased urban woodland I suggest Lord Jafari has sadly and profoundly misunderstood public sentiment. It is neither irrational for people to feel concerned for the future of the wood at the heart of their community nor slanderous for them to speak up.
I therefore urge the Council to recognise the legitimate concerns of the local community and the value of Grove Wood as one of Bristol’s few remaining urban woodlands by confirming the Woodland Tree Preservation Order with no changes.

Yours sincerely

stevem said...

Yet more:

I understand that you are meeting on Wednesday 1st April 2009 to consider the objections raised to the Tree Preservation Order (TPO) placed on Grove Wood, Stapleton.

Having read the objections raised by Lord Houshang Jafari (The Owner), The Rhino Group (a company residing at the same address as Lord Jafari) and Mair Veritas (Agent, residing at the same address as Lord Jafari).

I am dumbfounded why the landowner feels the need to object to a TPO placed on his land in order to protect the woodland. All along the landowner has purportedly wanted to look after the woodland.

Since its purchase Grove Wood has suffered from maltreatment and poor woodland management – I use the words woodland management loosely as there is no sign of woodland management taking place since its purchase, merely land clearance.

Lord Jafari also questions the amenity value of the land. I am confused by this as when looking up the definition for amenity I found the following:

Amenity - The pleasant or normally satisfactory aspects of a location which contribute to its overall character and the enjoyment of residents or visitors

Grove wood is in a conservation area and the wood is also listed as Ancient Woodland and thus affords its protection for its amenity value.

It is a beautiful peaceful example of ancient woodland which has the added benefit of a river flowing along its boundary. It is full of wildflowers, various native trees and is undoubtedly home to a large no of animals of all shapes and sizes.

Lord Jafari also questions why a TPO is required when it has already has protection afforded to it by its status.

A TPO has been placed on the woodland due to the actions of Lord Jafari in its clearance and maltreatment. If these actions had not taken place then a TPO would not have been required.

A TPO does not prevent the landowner from good woodland management but merely acts as a check to prevent damage to the woodland.

I strongly urge the councillors and its Officers to confirm the TPO on grove Woods for these reasons.

Yours faithfully

stevem said...

Councillors will have a lot of bedtime reading:

Dear Councillors

I am writing in respect of confirmation of the tree preservation order (TPO) at Grove Wood, Stapleton, for consideration by the Development Control Committee at its meeting on 1st April.

I have carefully read Mr Housang Jafari’s objection dated 17 November 2008 and submit the following observations:

Mr Jafari makes much of the amenity value of Grove Wood. He has, however, considerably diminished the value of the area since taking ownership. A considerable part of the amenity value is its nature as a barely managed woodland where visitors can get a sense of peace, history and the continuity of nature from being able to walk freely in this wild wood.

As your officers’ excellent report points out, this sort of amenity woodland contains trees in all stages of development and decay. That is part of the attraction of this natural and lightly-managed woodland.

The fact that Mr Jafari has changed the name from Grove Wood (its historic designation) to Icon Park (a meaningless and frankly threatening nomenclature) indicates that he has no respect for its history or its place in the affections of local residents. One must be suspicious about the reasons for this rebranding; does it herald a major change in the land’s use and appearance? I fear it does.

The challenge to the Council over its recent actions based on what occurred in 2000 is irrelevant and disingenuous. The land and enjoyment of its amenity value was not threatened then: it is now, and the council have quite rightly intervened to prevent any further damage.

It is no good Mr Jafari moaning about the duties he finds himself under as owner of Grove Wood. Nobody forced him to buy the land two years ago and if he did so without considering his obligations he was very foolish. However, if he had left the woodland alone, rather than interfering in the destructive and confrontational way he has, then none of the problems he now complains of would have occurred.

Mr Jafari’s comments about prejudice and racism must be as insulting to the council, both officers and elected members, as they are to me as a local resident opposed to his actions. I have not read or heard anything racist against Mr Jafari in this matter and I am certain that the action group would not tolerate such sentiments. Any prejudice now felt against Mr Jafari is entirely because of his actions not for any other reason.

Mr Jafari complains that the local outcry seeks to “bully me and prevent me from free enjoyment of my property”. He would be most welcome (yes, even now) to join residents in the “free enjoyment” we have had of this beautiful and peaceful area for many years – indeed, many generations. Sadly Mr Jafari’s idea of “free enjoyment” as owner is to despoil Grove Wood and alter its character in a way that might take many more years or generations to recover.

He says he has “sought to maintain the status quo”. What, by cutting down trees, installing a large and incongruous metal portacabin, bringing in tons of unsightly metal fencing and blocking off access to the (as yet unrecorded on the definitive map) upper footpaths and other areas that people have roamed on for years? “Maintain the status quo” -don’t make me laugh!

It is clear that Mr Jafari wants to close Grove Wood; he threatens as much in his objection. He must be prevented from making the area much less attractive to potential visitors through damaging and destroying the trees by, first of all, the council confirming the TPO it made last year. And secondly, I urge the council to safeguard this beautiful area for the enjoyment of future generations of residents and non-resident visitors alike, by taking it into council ownership by way of a compulsory purchase order.

stevem said...

More:

Dear Councillors

I am writing to respectfully request that you confirm the TPO on Grove Wood in its entirety when it is discussed at your meeting on 1 April.

Myself and many others were ecstatic when you made the decision last year to place a blanket TPO on the wood, and I have read the very lengthy document detailing the landowner's objections. A lot of the issues he is siting are actually of his own making and are the result of of his indiscriminately chopping down trees and bulldozing the area, turning narrow woodland pathways into wide muddy roads, thus also decimating much of the wildlife and its natural habitat.
I also take great exception to his unfounded accusations of being racist and part of a 'mob'.

Most recently Mr Jafari has erected a lot of unsightly fencing in what appears to be an attempt to restrict access to the general public, nor has he made any attempt to draw up a viable management plan as promised, or to meet with local people.

No surprise then that I am extremely suspicious of his motives, and feel he should not be entrusted with this wonderful ancient woodland that is loved and valued by so many.

I therefore ask again that you please do everything in your power to preserve and protect Grove Wood for generations to come by confirming the TPO without changes because if this fails, then I dread to think of the desecration that may follow.

stevem said...

Short and to the point:

Dear Councillors, I am writing to ask you to please keep the Tree Preservation Order at Grove Wood. I visit Snuff Mills at lease 3-4 times a week with my dog. Also my daughter and son and grandchildren go there regularly. It is a beautiful spot and needs to be kept as such. Please don't give in to the landowner.

stevem said...

I think anyone looking at this blog is getting the picture by now, but here's another one:

Dear Councillors I am writing to implore you to see the Tree Preservation Order on Grove Wood, Stapleton through. Over the past year, we as local residents of this community have been asking for dialogue with Mr. Jafari, and we are still waiting for any form of tangible communication with regards to his intention for this ancient woodland. We have seen the evidence of his reckless and damaging 'management' of this area, which lead myself and other members of the local community to campaign for a TPO in the first place. His absolute refusal to accept the amenity value of this land and the evidence collected by experts of the unique wildlife that resides there, only serves to demonstate further how precarious the future of these woods will be, if they remain in his ownership. The next logical step to help save these woods from further destuction is to continue with the TPO as granted last year. It is a necessary step to preserve a much loved peaceful area of Bristol that has been used for generations.

stevem said...

From a Freeman of the city, no less:


Grove Wood, Confirmation of Tree Preservation Order (1092) Hearing,
1st April 2009

I understand that your Development Control Committee will be considering whether, or not, they should confirm the Woodland Tree Preservation Order placed on Grove Wood at their meeting held on 29 October last year, and I have read the letters of objection from the current owner and his agents.

Unfortunately the meeting on 1st April clashes with me travelling to Sheffield and I am, therefore, unable to attend. Please accept my apologies for my absence.

The lengthy submissions that have been made against the confirmation of the TPO contain numerous inconsistencies and inaccuracies and I have resisted the temptation to challenge these by way of a point scoring exercise. Suffice to say that I take issue with the various claims that are made regarding the behaviour of the Grove Wood Action Group. The Group has, at all times, taken great care to act responsibly and with the utmost integrity and it is unfair and dishonest of the objector to claim otherwise.

Personally, I feel that the crux of this whole matter appears to be one of accountability. Whilst, on the one hand, the owner claims to want to accept his ‘duty of care’ for these important woodlands, he has, in the past demonstrated (by the felling of trees without reference to anyone – and his failure to provide a promised management plan) that he has little or no regard for the basic code of care and consideration for others. He should be held accountable by the confirmation of the TPO, and, with goodwill on all sides, there is no reason why this should hinder his management of this invaluable amenity.

In the appendix to the papers for the meeting to be held on 1st April, your own officers have responded to the objections raised in the most concise manner. I very much hope and trust that those who will be responsible for deciding this matter now will uphold the responsible action of the Officers who took the decision to make the original order in October last year and take Option (ii) and “Confirm the TPO without modification”.

stevem said...

Grove Wood's very own MP has sent in a submission too, I can't rip it from a PDF, but it supports the TPO.

stevem said...

Short and very sweet:

I am writing to ask Bristol City Council to please uphold the tree preservation order on Grove Wood without any changes to it.The land owner seems to have not put forward any plans,or carried out any clearance of fallen trees,or contacted the local community.Therefore the situation is still very unstable,and the trees need protection.My husband and I have enjoyed these woodlands all our lives,and now that we are retired , we walk there at least three times a week, and the thought that some one could destroy this area is very up setting.

stevem said...

I am writing as a concerned local resident and regular user of Snuff Mills/Grove Wood to urge the Development Control Committee to confirm the Woodland Tree Preservation Order (TPO) that has been served on Grove Wood and dismiss the objections by the landowner, his development company and agent.

Grove Wood is a unique and special place for wildlife and people in the heart of Bristol. Bristol prides itself on being a 'green' city so places such as Grove Wood, an ancient woodland home to numerous rare and protected species including bats, kingfishers and otters should be given the highest level of protection without question.

The value local residents place on Grove Wood has been amply demonstrated by the formation of an action group when they sensed the wood was under threat and the regular well attended public meetings and demonstrations since.

Mr Jafari's letter of objection would lead you to believe that he also values the wood and has its best interest at heart. His actions however have done little to demonstrate that. His very first action after purchasing the wood was to cut down a large patch of woodland without permission, disturbing otters in the process.

Alarmed at this episode local residents sought to find out who the new landowner was. They discovered him to be a property developer with a history of breaching planning regulations. Understandably they were very concerned as to what might happen next. He has done little in the meantime to re-assure residents and has been consistently evasive about his long term intentions for Grove Wood, thus hightening their concerns.

It is unfortunate that the TPO issued in 2000 wasn't confirmed. However the wood was not deemed under threat then so it is easy to see why it slipped off the planning agenda. If Mr Jafari feels it is unfair that it was suddenly deemed necessary to reinstate it he only has himself to blame. If his intention for Icon Park (Grove Wood) is simply to maitain it as natural woodland then the TPO will do nothing to hinder that aim. The changes in permissions and advice by BCC must understandably be a source of genuine frustration for him and will have delayed his plans but surely there is no rush in maintaining a woodland?

In coming to your decision I think it is imperative to keep asking what his ultimate intentions are for Icon Park. Why would the introduction of a TPO cause him so much distress that he would threaten legal action? Would anything other than maintaining the natural woodland be acceptable given the site of the wood in a conservation area and it's extremely important wildlife assets? Has it been made clear to Mr Jafari that he won't ever be able to develop the site?

stevem said...

Another one:

To whom it may concern,

I am writing to register my family's strong support for the upholding of the TPO placed on Grove Woods in Stapleton. As local residents and proud Bristolians we feel that the ancient woodlands of the Frome Valley are an enormous asset both to our locality and to the city as a whole, and as such should be given the maximum protection to prevent them being exploited for commercial gain. The TPO on Grove Woods is vital in this respect. When the TPO was issued last year we regarded it as a victory for common sense and for local democracy. We sincerely hope that the council officers continue to show good judgement in this matter by rejecting the landowner's appeal out of hand.

stevem said...

Snuff Mills Action Group's submission:

From: Steve Micklewright, Chairman,
Snuff Mills Action Group
To: South and East Development Control Committee, Bristol City Council
Re: Confirmation of Woodland Tree Preservation Order on Grove Wood, Snuff Mills, Stapleton, Bristol
Date: 30 March 2009

I am writing on behalf of Snuff Mills Action Group to urge the Development Control Committee to confirm the Woodland Tree Preservation Order (TPO) that has been served on Grove Wood and dismiss the objections by the landowner, his development company and agent.

The objections received are confusing and difficult to understand, but they seem to seek to challenge the Woodland TPO on a number of grounds, notably:
1. Insufficient evidence of amenity value of the woodland;
2. Existing best practice land management by the landowner;
3. TPO acting as a hindrance to sound management;
4. Abuse of process by the City Council and;
5. Undue and inaccurate campaigning by a minority interest group, namely Snuff Mills Action Group.

Our submission seeks to aid in the dismissal of these assertions.

1. Insufficient evidence of amenity value of the woodland
Grove Wood is 14 acres of mostly ancient semi-natural woodland on the south side of the Frome Valley, directly opposite Snuff Mills Park. Ancient woodland is one of our richest and most precious habitats for wildlife and is singled out in both national government policy and Bristol’s very own Biodiversity Action Plan for special measures to conserve and enhance it. Its status for wildlife is supported by its designation as a Site of Nature Conservation Importance within Bristol City Council’s own policy documents. Additionally Grove Wood is registered as a historic landscape because of its long association with Blackberry Hill Hospital and it is even designated by the Council as open space, despite now being in private ownership. Last of all, the woodland is within the Stapleton Conservation Area, a historic part of Bristol famed for its open spaces and attractive buildings. All of these designations on Grove Wood clearly demonstrate that the woodland’s extremely high amenity value.

These designations reflect the beautiful forest canopy and intricate arrangement of trees of all shapes and sizes that are a joy for the people from all over Bristol and much further who visit Snuff Mills. They may never set foot in Grove Wood, but it provides huge amenity value to Snuff Mills Park by virtue of being visible from all parts of it. For those who walk through Grove Wood itself, the amenity value lies in the huge diversity of trees and the very natural feel of the woodland.

In his submission, Mr Jafari describes the amenity value of Grove Wood as ‘alleged’ (page 3, para 1) and his agent, John Mair, describes the trees along Blackberry Hill that they had applied to be felled as having ‘low value’ (page 3, para 1). Both of these parties know that this is not true. The Council’s own Tree Officer described the Blackberry Hill trees as being of ‘medium to high’ amenity value and a Snuff Mills Action Group evaluation using the respected CAVAT method indicated an amenity value the region of £500,000.

Finally, any agent investigating the purchase of Grove Wood could not fail to become aware of the significant value of Grove Wood for amenity by virtue of the designations listed above. Snuff Mills Action Group therefore argues that the objectors to the TPO are being disingenuous when claiming the woodland’s amenity value is not proven and this element of their objection should be dismissed by Councillors.

2. Existing best practice land management by the landowner
Throughout their objections both Mr Jafari and John Mair assert that they have sought to work with stakeholders to manage Grove Wood effectively. Mr Jafari’s development company, Rhino Group Ltd, claim that they seek to manage the wood ‘according to best practice’.

Actions speak much louder than words in this case and since he bought the wood Mr Jafari has:
• Removed a block of woodland without first seeking permission from Bristol City Council;
• Moved earth and dumped trees next to the River Frome, disturbing protected otters;
• Erected a container in the woods for workmen to use, though it has only been used for two short periods in ten months;
• Erected ugly Heras fencing spoiling the views of Grove Wood from Snuff Mills;
• Used strimmers and lighted fires so close to a protected kingfisher nest that the birds abandoned their young;
• Attacked the bank he created to remove logs to stabilise his temporary fencing, again disturbing the highly sensitive otters that were frequenting the area.

These actions are not those of someone who cares about woodland and engages in sensitive management. Furthermore, best practice in woodland management involves agreeing a management plan with the Forestry Commission. I have been in touch with their regional office and they have had no contact from Mr Jafari or his agents since July 2008. No management plan exists, yet the woodland has been in Mr Jafari’s ownership for well over a year.

Best practice also involves consulting with the local community in the development of a management plan. Despite repeated attempts by Snuff Mills Action Group and Bristol City Council to discuss Grove Wood in a sensible and mature way, Mr Jafari refuses to meet the community. All of this confirms that Grove Wood remains under threat and that a woodland TPO is fully justified.

3. The TPO acting as a hindrance to sound management
The response to the objections from the arboricultural team make it clear that the Woodland TPO does not act as a hindrance to sound management. It would not prevent the removal of dead, dying or dangerous trees, the clearing of obstructions to the public right of way or the pruning of the trees along Blackberry Hill to ensure public safety.

It is lamentable that the current landowner regards the slight increase in due process that he will have to go through to gain permissions as so onerous that he has decided to object to the TPO. Once again, the Development Committee should dismiss this element of the objection.

4. Abuse of process by the City Council
Mr Jafari’s letter and John Mair’s objection make serious allegations amounting to an accusation of maladministration by Bristol City Council. When Councillors voted to apply a TPO to Grove Wood they were fully appraised of the legal position and reassured that they could apply a TPO by the Council’s own legal team.

Furthermore, the response by Bristol City Council’s arboricultural team (Appendix 2) to the objections makes it very clear that the City Council acted within its powers when applying the Woodland TPO to Grove Wood in October.

We urge Councillors not to be intimidated by threats of litigation by Mr Jafari and his agents and confirm the TPO on Grove Wood.

5. Undue and inaccurate campaigning by a minority interest group, namely Snuff Mills Action Group.
Mr Jafari’s submission to the Council are littered with false accusations about Snuff Mills Action Group. Mr Jafari accuses us of ‘slanderous public protest’ (page 5 para 4), being a ‘prejudiced and at times racist minority (page 7, para 1), and of using ‘mob pressure who with a slanderous campaign has done all within their power to bully me’.

For the record, Snuff Mills Action Group is the recognised park users’ group for the area. We are governed by a management committee and a constitution. Over 250 people joined us to protest when the decision was made to allow the felling of trees next to Blackberry Hill and over 100 people objected to the proposal in the first place. We recently organised a walk through Grove Woods to show that we would continue to enjoy the free access generations have enjoyed as of right. This event was actively supported by two MPs and local Councillors from all parties, not to mention the 150 walkers of all ages who joined the event.

It saddens us when people attempt to smear us with accusations that are untrue, but we take inspiration from Gandhi and Nelson Mandela who both showed that peaceful protest and careful actions that demonstrate when wrongs have been committed are the best way for them to be corrected. We hope, as Councillors, you will make the right decision today and help ensure no more damage is done to this most precious and fragile woodland. Please confirm the Woodland TPO on Grove Wood without modification.

stevem said...

Last one for today:

Dear Councillors
I am writing to you to ask you to confirm the Woodland Tree Preservation Order on Grove Wood without modification.
I have regularly used the public foot path to walk my dogs and enjoy the beautiful flora and fauna within the wood.
I am very concerned about the long term future of this ancient woodland as the owner Mr Jafari seems to have no real interest in looking after this woodland professionally. He has left one corner of the wood to looking like a real eyesore. This is not what you would expect from a man who claims to have the best interests of the wood and its wildlife at heart. It has also been rather upsetting that in his defence this man is calling people who genuinely care for their local environment racists and hooligans. Mr Jafari has no interest in meeting local people and is hell bent on just upsetting the locals in any way possible by harassing and intimidating anybody who even walks on the public footpath. If Mr Jafari truly has the interests of protecting Grove Wood and not developing it in some way, then why would he object to something that protects the wood for all to enjoy?
I urge the Council to use common sense and confirm the Tree Preservation Order as it stands.

stevem said...

Dear Councillors,

I would like to register my concern regarding proposed development at Grove Wood. I regularly visit Snuff Mills and would be hugely disappointed if this area of beauty was spoiled in any way. I wholey support the TPO and hope the Council will support the people who enjoy spending time in this peaceful spot.

stevem said...

Another very comprehensive submission:

I am writing to urge the Committee to confirm the Tree Preservation Order made in October last year for Grove Wood. I am a local resident and Grove Wood is situated behind my house, where I have lived for over thirty years, so I am very familiar with the woodland under discussion

I have walked in the woods throughout this time and enjoyed the peace that can be found here and appreciated the variety of birds, animals, trees and the flowers that can be seen throughout the year. I am aware of its status as being designated “ancient woodland” and being situated in a conservation area.

Freedom to use the wood was not restricted by its previous owners – the NHS until February 2000, and then by a consortium led by Mr Terry Olpin, who owned the wood until it was purchased at auction by its current owner in December 2007.

Within a few weeks, he cleared trees from a large area of land adjacent to Blackberry Hill, without seeking the necessary permission from the Council, whereas trees obstructing the footpath that had blown down in previous gales were left there.

The current owner has not demonstrated careful and sensitive management of this peaceful wood, which has provided a safe habitat for a range of wildlife for generations. On the contrary, he has shown a reckless disregard for the creatures that live there – the kingfishers, otters and bats in particular, and harmed their environment by lighting fires and destroying habitats by creating a bund. He has erected ugly metal Heras fencing, completely out of keeping in a woodland environment, which is more appropriate to a building site. I am unclear as to the relevance and purpose of this fence, since it detracts from the ambience and appearance of the wood and confirms in my opinion the owner’s lack of responsibility in managing a woodland site such as Grove Wood.

I am very concerned that the current owner has not demonstrated he understands the importance of protecting and preserving a woodland habitat like Grove Wood and on the contrary has disregarded the legal requirements to obtain necessary permission in advance to cut down trees, or to consult with organisations like the Forestry Commission and Bristol City Council, which could assist him with his responsibilities of owning Grove Wood.

I therefore urge the Planning Committee to confirm the Tree Preservation Order and reject the owner’s appeal.

stevem said...

And another one:

Grove Wood, Stapleton

I would like to make the following statement for the 1st April meeting:

I urge the council to confirm the Tree Preservation Order for Grove Wood with no changes.

Grove Wood is an extremely important woodland for the Stapleton area as well as a beauty spot visited by people all over Bristol. I have walked, gone jogging and enjoyed the wonderful green space that is the Snuff Mills/Grove Wood area for about 15 years. Its position next to a major road has a significant positive visual impact on the area.

Recently however these trees have been under threat from the current owner who is a property developer who has degraded the woodland. He has removed trees, bulldozed areas and lit fires to remove endangered species. This man has demonstrated that he has no intention of preserving this woodland for the people of Bristol to enjoy and wildlife to live in.

The decision to put a tree preservation order on the whole of the woodland is one wholeheartedly supported by myself and the people I have spoken to on the Trendlewood Estate in Stapleton. I therefore request that councillors decide to keep the preservation order.

stevem said...

Another great submission from Alderman Paul Smith:

Dear Bristol City Council

I wish to comment on the agenda item dealing with the TPO at Grove Wood. I will keep it short:

1) If the landowner really did have the interests of the wood at heart and wished to maintain it as a sustainable habitat and as an ancient woodland then I am sure he would welcome the TPO as something that demonstrates his noble objectives in owning the wood

2) If however the landowner intended to slowly undermine the tree cover at the edges of the wood, hoping over a period of time he could realise some development value from his ownership he would oppose the TPO

Since the latter is the case one can only assume that the opposition to the TPO is a precursor to seeking woodland edge development and therefore if the committee wishes to protect this landscape it should confirm the previous decision to apply a TPO to the whole wood

stevem said...

And finally, here are the words of our local MP, Roger Berry. He recently told me that one of his first campaigning acts was to publicly oppose the apartheid regime in South Africa. If you have seen the Evening Post today, you will know why I've said that:

Grove Wood

I understand that members are considering whether or not to confirm Tree Preservation Order No 1092 in respect of Grove Wood in my constituency.

Grove Wood is in the Frome Valley Conservation Area and provides a very important amenity for the local area. I would therefore urge members to confirm the Tree Preservation Order without any changes.

Yours sincerely



Roger Berry
MP for Kingswood

stevem said...

The above comments are just the submissions that I have been sent to put on the blog. I understand that over 50 have been received by the Council.

We will let you know how the meeting goes tomorrow.