Tuesday, 2 February 2010

Grove Wood container update

This article appeared in the Evening Post on Friday 29th January:

A landowner is due in court charged with breaking planning rules for failing to remove an 'eyesore' storage container from riverside woodland in Stapleton.

Lord Houshang Jafari will appear before Bristol Magistrates' Court next month to face an allegation that he failed to remove a temporary building from Grove Wood despite being ordered to move it by the city council in September last year.

Campaigners who have protested over tree-felling in the woodland next to Snuff Mills Park believe the blue and white metal 'shipping container' should be removed because it ruins the look of the area.

Steve Micklewright, chairman of Snuff Mills Action Group, said: "It's right at the entrance to the wood and it's an eyesore. It has been broken into and someone was living in it over the winter. It's making the woodland ugly and it's serving no purpose. We've been campaigning for its removal because the woodland is in a conservation area.

"It's good the council is trying to act on it."

Mr Micklewright said the temporary building first appeared in May 2008 and has only been used on a handful of occasions. He said it was moved, but only further into the woodland, once the city council ordered it be removed in September last year.

Grove Wood, which is part of a Conservation Area next to the River Frome, has been at the centre of a long-running row between residents and Lord Jafari.

It was bought by Lord Jafari at public auction in November 2007 and part of it was felled without permission in January 2008. A woodland tree preservation order was made on it in April last year, protecting it from further felling.

Campaigners are now calling for the council to make a footpath in the upper part of the woods a designated public footpath.

John Mair, agent for Lord Jafari, said the alleged breach of planning rules was nothing to do with Lord Jafari and was connected with his company Rhino Group Limited, which he says owns the woodland.

Mr Mair said: "We will defend ourselves. This is not a breach of the regulations. We've not done anything wrong and we are only trying to run our business. We are trying to clean up the woodland and the riverbank. We are planning to reinstate styles and walls which have fallen down.

"We have an obligation to manage the woodland and ensure safety on the public right of way. The container is used for equipment used to clear a public right of way, to cut up wood and also for a generator to keep our guys warm when they are working.

"We bought the woodland for our own private reasons and want to look after it. Before we had it, the land and public right of way wasn't being looked after."

Lord Jafari, of Downleaze, Sneyd Park, is due to enter a plea to the allegation before city magistrates on February 17.


Grove Wood Rover said...

I'm loving some of John Mair's comments in this article.

For example, he says, "the alleged breach of planning rules was nothing to do with Lord Jafari and was connected with his company Rhino Group Limited, which he says owns the woodland." So, if I buy a woodland and then pass ownership on to a company that is registered at my house and of which I am a director, then that is nothing to do with me.

Mr Mair also says, "We are trying to clean up the woodland and the riverbank." Really - has he seen all the rubbish dumped in the entrance that has been there for months. I bet the only people that will get around to removing it are local people who care about the place.

And John Mair adds, "The container is used for equipment used to clear a public right of way, to cut up wood and also for a generator to keep our guys warm when they are working." The footpath was cleared by Bristol City Council who did not use the container. The gardener who did a bit of strimming had no access to the container and as far as we are aware nothing is stored in the container. We've never seen a generator being used on site.

If this is anything to go by, Mr Mair's performance at court on Feb 17th will be highly entertaining.

Anonymous said...

I do hope Mair wears his slippers like he did to the Snuff Mills Open Meeting.

Woodburner said...

I think Tesco style pajamas would be cool

Woodburner said...

Pyjamas please

"Crown Prosecution Service" said...

Apparently everyone waited patiently at the court today to have the hearing but no one showed up from the landowner's side and so the case was adjourned.

Why they couldn't have heard the case in their abscence and make an appropriate judgement is unclear.

What a waste of everyone's time and money (except for the landowner of course). I hope the Council can claim costs for this sort of thing.

Anonymous said...

The modi operandi of the landowner are stalling and obfuscation. You will have seen the latter in action as the transfer of the woodland into one of his many companies, all 25-30ish making an interesting living in trading with each other.
Now comes the stalling - first a no show, next will be that BCC should have gone after Rhino Group and not Jafari personally, next thing that you know, a year has passed, BCC have given up and gone home, and all the trees were mysteriously cut down over the long Easter weekend.

Grove Wood Rover said...

I doubt that it would be possible to chop down any trees in Grove Wood without a major reaction from the public.

The landowner was informed of the recent violation of the TPO when some minor strimming took place, so I am sure that the Council would certainly not sit by and watch any trees being chopped down in Grove Wood.

stevem said...

This comment was posted over at the Evening Posts website on 21st February by "Rhino, Icon Park":

Please also be aware that we have offered to help the Snuff Mills Action Group with their proposals to clean up Snuff Mills. We propose using timber from the dead trees at Icon Park to provide fencing and benches which can enhance the amenity. We have also proposed to the action group and council that the power of the river be harnessed to provide power to light the footpaths and the public toilets at Snuff Mills.

To date the action group and council have chosen to work against us rather than to work with us.

stevem said...

Following on from this comment, Snuff Mills Action Group have tried to work with the landowner for nearly two years now.

Sadly we have reached a point where we feel that we cannot trust him or his intentions - every time we have met him (or his agent), we have been told a different story about what he wants to do with the woods.

Our most recent correspondence from his agent suggested that we used our skills at fundraising to help them manage the wood and that an offer of over £30,000 from one of our members to buy the wood off them could better be used by them in the woods.

Meanwhile the entrance to the wood is full of rubbish and they failed to appear in court last week to explain why they have not removed the container which the Council have ordered them to remove.

Need I say anymore?