Monday, 14 December 2009
We had over 100 people send us evidence about their use of Grove Wood for legal sports and past-times, dating back to the 1920s. Activities included walking, orienteering, rambling, bird watching, but our favourite was the person that used the woods for ferret walking!
If the application is successful it will mean that Grove Wood will be free for people to enjoy for all time. It would also make it impossible for public access to be restricted in any way and make it practically impossible to put any form of development on the land.
We will post more information about this application in due course, but for now, can we just say a big thank you to everyone who provided us with the vital evidence we needed to make such a strong case for this.
Friday, 11 December 2009
They tells us that they have ecological, topographical, tree and landscape surveys planned which they will share with us. They are also arranging for temporary security fencing and partial boarding of some of the buildings to be installed around the built estate only. This will not in anyway affect the fields, and is purely to protect the buildings and to prevent vandalism. They are making sure they do not require Listed Building or Conservation Consent before they do this. They are also looking in to the costs of demolishing the 1960’s (former care centre) buildings, but will let us know if they decide to do this.
North Bristol Trust have exercised their right to remain in occupancy in various parts of the built estate, so they are expected to be there for the foreseeable future, and certainly well into next year. The Memorial Garden close to the Care Centre Buildings remains the responsibility of North Bristol Trust so it will be their responsibility to manage the relocation of sentimental artefacts. And they are looking in to the listed status of some of the buildings, but this is nothing terribly detailed, and this is work in progress.
They have had strong and unsolicited interest from a range of developers, but have committed to nothing, at this stage. They cannot rule out the outright sale of the site yet, though they would prefer a development partner. This means someone who can work with the HCA, BCC and the local community to develop proposals. The HCA have been looking in to promoting a high quality innovative environmental standards for the site, as a requirement of any redevelopment, which could be really exciting.
The HCA are committed to working with the community if they go for this option, but they are anxious for us to be aware they cannot as yet rule out passing the site on to a developer and they will let us know if this becomes the prefered option.
Let's hope they are able to stick with their ideas of a really exciting partnership that could make the best of the site.
Sunday, 6 December 2009
Peter Rowell from ITV came along and presented us with a big cheque and we enjoyed a well earned glass of champagne.
Thanks again to everyone who helped make this happen.
Photos taken from: http://destructionofgrovewood.blogspot.com/
You can read more about Grove Wood on that site.
The ugly cabin that has been such an eyesore in Grove Wood has been moved.
It was here just this morning, but now it has gone. But don't get too excited. It is now further in the woods and has been rotated around by 90 degrees.
I'm not sure this is what the Council meant when they served a notice to remove the cabin. You were meant to remove it from the woods Mr Jafari, not move it further in.
Thursday, 26 November 2009
After all the emailing, leafleting, door-knocking, speaking at local schools and much more, the Emersons Green Memorial Skate Park received more calls than Snuff Mills on Tuesday, so it was announced on ITV last night that they would receive the People's Millions grant. While we were pleased for Jamie's Dad who had put so much effort in to fund-raising for the skate park, we were of course terribly disappointed that Snuff Mills was not going to get the funds from the People's Millions and many of us drowned our sorrows in the local pub.
So, imagine how we felt when the BIG lottery people called today to say that we had scored more votes than any of the other runner up projects and that we would be getting the grant after all!
All of us in Snuff Mills Action Group are over the moon and we will do our best to use the money to ensure Snuff Mills can be enjoyed by EVERYONE.
THANK YOU if you called to support the project, distributed leaflets, put up posters and pestered your friends and family to call. We could not have done this without you.
Special thanks also to our TV stars - Ivor and his son Matt, Chris, Audrey and her friend, Chris and Beau the barn owl and the many children and helpers who turned out to help make the film.
As Chair of the Action Group, I'd like to personally thank Andrew who had the idea to apply to the People's Millions in the first place and helped put the bid together, Martyn who designed a brilliant leaflet to promote the project and Andy for endless laminating.
Best wishes and thank you
Snuff Mills Action Group
Friday, 6 November 2009
Thank you for voting the lines are now closed.
Visit our special Snuff Millions blog to find out more: http://snuffmillions.blogspot.com/
To register for email updates, send an email to: firstname.lastname@example.org with register in the title
Tuesday, 27 October 2009
The HCA have been in contact with us to say that the signs will be replaced and if they continue to be vandalised, they may need to take further action because it is criminal damage. This could include seeking to restrict access to the field although they have assured us that they do not wish to do so at present.
While we understand the anger that the signs have caused, we do not condone vandalism or criminal damage and we want to maintain a good relationship with the HCA because we believe this is the best way to ensure Laundry Field is saved.
We are in contact with the HCA and are discussing whether a less offensive looking sign could go up. More news soon.
Sunday, 25 October 2009
Friday, 23 October 2009
Bristol City Council served notice on the landowner to remove the portacabin from Grove Woods on 24th September. Snuff Mills Action Group have been fighting for this to happen for a long time and we would like to congratulate the Council on taking this action. The legal notice is reproduced below (click the image to read it).
The container should have gone by the 22nd October at the latest but is still there. We understand that Bristol City Council are now taking action because of the landowner's refusal to comply with the notice to remove it. However, a large section of the Heras fencing has been removed from the stretch along the footpath and the section by the steps. This is a definite improvement.
Tuesday, 20 October 2009
Gardening takes place every other Sunday between 10-12noon and these are the dates we have organised at the moment:
Sun October 25th - Gardening - 10-12noon
Sun November 8th - Gardening - 10-12noon
Sun November 22nd - Gardening - 10-12noon
Just bring yourself, some gloves and basic gardening tools if you have them
Tuesday, 29 September 2009
John Cottrell the Area Team Leader from the HCA gave those that attended a run down of the HCA's involvement and possible intentions with the site and a synopsis of this meeting is below:
The HCA bought the Blackberry Hill Hospital Site (not including the secure unit) and Laundry Field in March/April 2009.
Land Agents gave a Red Book Appraisal (valuation) of the hospital site only (not including Laundry Field) based on the potential for housing using recommended government housing density per hectare figures. This was calculated to be 350 homes. This figure was then used to confirm the purchase price of the land.
No plans for the site have been drawn up and the site will not come into full ownership until July 2010 when the NHS has to either vacate or buy back the land.
Currently the HCA has no monies allocated for the site and as such cannot progress with any consultation or draw up plans.
The HCA currently has 4 options
1. Consult over proposals when funding available
2. Bring a partner on board to fund consultation and subsequent development (e.g. Barrat/Bovis etc...)
3. Do nothing
4. Sell the Land to the highest bidder.
By the end of our discussions all felt that options 1 and 3 would be the best outcome for everyone.
Then the subject of Laundry Field came up and the signs.
The signs have been put up by the HCA to protect themselves as landowners and limit their public liability. This means that if they put a sign up saying private land do not enter and a member of the public goes onto that land and hurts themselves then they can be shown as advising the public to not go on the land and thus cannot be held accountable.
The signs are legal and the HCA has no intention of taking them down. However we shall be writing to the HCA to see if they will change their appearance as a minimum.
As no plans have been drawn up for the site ideas were bounced around as to what the potential for the site development would be and whether or not Laundry Field would be developed. The HCA felt that there would be some development of Laundry Field possibly around the outside, but this would form part of the consultation process.
The group understood that this was a possibility and stated that it would rather see no development on the field, but also appreciated that any developer would like to develop the field to some degree and thanked John Cottrell for his honesty on the subject.
The meeting ended on good terms and all those that attended felt that the HCA was an organisation that would pay a high regard to to views of the local residents and was glad to hear that pre consultation would be started at an early stage depending on what option over the land was decided.
Please watch this space for any further news and please add comments as the feeback can be used in future meetings.
Monday, 28 September 2009
It was useful to have a lively discussion with a representative of the landowner and it was certainly a really useful step in trying to build a relationship between the community and the landowner, but this is just the first step in trying to resolve all the issues that surround Grove Wood. It was in no way a consultation about the future management of the woodland and we have informed the Forestry Commission to this effect.
Sunday, 20 September 2009
Eels have declined by 95% across Europe in the last 25 years and no one knows why. But, they seem to be at home in the River Frome judging by this clip sent to us from a family that went fishing for tiddlers. It's a great sign that the river is healthy and not polluted and of course eels a food for herons, one of the birds we regularly see by the river
Monday, 14 September 2009
The event takes place on Thursday 17th September from 7.30pm and costs a very modest £2. Numbers are limited as we do not want to disturb the wildlife, so get your tickets in advance by emailing email@example.com
Saturday, 5 September 2009
You are most likely to see them at dawn or dusk when the valley is quiet, so if you have dogs that like to chase animals, beware. Unlike squirrels, that dash up trees, or rabbits, that go down holes, when a deer is being chased it will run for miles. You could be waiting for a long time for your dog to return.
Has anyone else seen deer recently?
Tuesday, 28 July 2009
This is despite the HCA's original statement that they had "identified the site as suitable for mixed-use development which when brought forward, may include shops, commercial space, community facilities and open space, as well as up to 350 new homes"
And a promise that: "the development will include extensive consultation with local community and stakeholder groups, and will meet the HCA’s quality design and environmental standards." Well if putting up bullying signs is their idea of extensive consultation with the local community, we're not very impressed.
We've been checking on the status of Laundry Field and it is marked on the Council's own planning documents as open space. The action of the HCA are clearly intended to prevent the designation of a Town or Village Green for the site, but we have already been sent enough evidence to show that it has been used for legal sports and pastimes for more than twenty years. So they'll have a real fight on their hands, especially if they continue to behave in such a heavy handed manner. Snuff Mills Action Group are meeting later this week to discuss how we should respond to yet another threat to the greenspaces that make this area so special. In the meantime we urge you to keep enjoying Laundry Field.
You can also let the Regional Director of the HCA know your feelings about their actions by emailing him at firstname.lastname@example.org
Thursday, 23 July 2009
The top picture is after the trees were pruned and the the bottom one is how they looked last year. This shows that the work seems to have been done with as much sensitivity to the amenity value of these trees as possible. A far cry to what could have happened if the original decision to fell them had not been challenged by local people and a real indication of just how much Bristol City Council's attitude to Grove Wood and its trees has improved.
Tuesday, 21 July 2009
Before The Honourable Mr Justice Wyn Williams KT
Friday 3rd July 2009
10.30am For Hearing: Co/3998/2009 Bown v Bristol 10.30am For Hearing: Co/3998/2009 Bown v Bristol City Council"
The outcome of the case has now been published and here is what a news agency has sent out on the wires: BRISTOL City Council has fought off a unique High Court challenge by one of its own forestry officers who attempted to stop part of a Stapleton wood from being protected by a tree preservation order.
Arboricultural officer Jonathan Bown was sent by the council to investigate reports of tree felling at Grove Wood, Blackberry Hill, Stapleton, in January last year.
He inspected the trees allegedly felled and, after deciding that "no illegal activity had taken place", Mr Bown decided in July last year that no tree preservation order should be issued to protect 27 trees along the wood's boundary and the adjoining road.
Top judge, Mr Justice Wyn Williams, said today that the woodland issue generated "substantial local interest" and, in September last year, Mr Bown's immediate line manager, Richard Ennion, took over from him as council officer in charge of the case.
Eventually, Mr Bown was overruled by the council's planning committee which confirmed a Woodland Tree Preservation Order over Grove Wood in April this year.
Mr Justice Wyn Williams said Mr Bown did not, as a private individual, register a formal objection to the order, although he "feels passionately that a Woodland Tree Preservation Order over the whole of the wood was completely unjustified".
The judge added: "As I understand it, he has made that view known with vigour to his employers, Bristol City Council".
At the High Court, Mr Bown put forward "at least seven or eight" reasons why the order should be overturned, but the judge said that, on the face of it, many of his complaints were "not strictly legal points".
He said he had reached "the strong provisional view" that Mr Bown's arguments were "certainly not points upon which it would be proper to quash the tree preservation order" over the wood, which is part of the Stapleton and Frome Valley Conservation Area.
The judge in the end dismissed Mr Bown's case on grounds that - as he is neither the owner of Grove Wood, nor does he live nearby - he is not a "person aggrieved" who would have a legal right to challenge the council's decision in court.
To allow Mr Bown to pursue his case, said the judge, "would be to widen the category of persons permitted to make such challenges far beyond that which was intended by the legislature, as interpreted by the Higher Courts".
He added: "I am satisfied that Mr Bown has no such interest in this case. Accordingly, I conclude that he is not a person who is entitled to bring a claim...so as to seek to quash the Woodland Tree Preservation Order made in respect of Grove Wood".
(The mushroom pictured is called a lawyers wig by the way).
You can read the judgment here in full. The Evening Post article about the case is here.
Thursday, 16 July 2009
"On the 15th May 2009 a Highway Enforcement Notice under section 154 of the Highways Act was served on the owners of Grove Wood. The notice required the removal of the overhanging tree obstruction on the Broom Hill / Blackberry Hill highway and also the removal of fallen trees from the Public Right of Way No 153 running through Grove Wood.
To date, no works have been carried out by the owner.
As a result council arboricultural contractors have been instructed to carry out the works commencing on Wednesday 22nd July. An ecological survey will be carried out prior to the works, and an ecologist will also be in attendance during the treeworks to oversee the species protection issues.
An application to complete the works has been made to the Council's Planning department, Application No 09/01588/VD."
The work began on 22/7/09 and is now complete.
Sunday, 12 July 2009
Sunday 12th July 10-12noon, Sunday 26th July 10-12noon
We have now planted the top border with new plants and we will introduce more plants in the coming weeks. We'll also be weeding and caring for the areas we have already renovated. All this work is thanks to funding from the Co-op, John Lewis and Bristol City Council and the dedication of people who care about the valley.
Please come and help and bring basic gardening tools and gloves if you can.
Friday, 10 July 2009
It's a great chance to enjoy the evening sunshine (last year's was held on about the only decent day we had last summer)and chill out in an area that is one of Snuff Mills best kept secrets.
Just bring some food and as it is Bastille Day, there is a slight French theme in honour of the fact that Blackberry Hill Hospital was used to house French prisoners of war a very ling time ago, so baguettes, onions, stripey tops and berets are all very welcome.
Saturday, 4 July 2009
Friday, 3 July 2009
The Homes and Communities Agency(HCA) and the North Bristol NHS Trust (NBT) today announced that Blackberry Hill Hospital has been sold to the HCA, the government’s housing and regeneration agency.
Commenting on the purchase Colin Molton, Regional Director of the HCA in the South West said: “The Blackberry Hill hospital site provides an excellent opportunity to create a vibrant and sustainable new community in the heart of Bristol. We will ensure that the scheme delivers significant benefits not only to those who will come to live there but to the wider local community in terms of employment, community facilities and ripple effect it will have on other potential development sites in the area.”
The hospital, located in the Fishponds area of Bristol, has seen many changes over the last few years. With the majority of the hospital’s clinical services transferred to Frenchay and Southmead hospitals in 2005, and alternative community-based rehabilitation services provided by local PCTs, much of the 21 acre site was unused.
A proportion has now been released from NHS use. However the Avon and Wiltshire Mental Health Partnership NHS Trust will continue to offer a range of health care services from its facility adjacent to the Blackberry site.
The HCA has identified the site as suitable for mixed-use development which when brought forward, may include shops, commercial space, community facilities and open space, as well as up to 350 new homes.
The HCA believes the development could bring significant benefits to the local community. The Fishponds area of Bristol has a need for more affordable housing and nearby Eastville has been identified as a Neighbourhood Renewal Area by Bristol City Council. It is anticipated that the Blackberry Hill development will act as a catalyst for further regeneration projects in and around the area.
As with all HCA projects, the development will include extensive consultation with local community and stakeholder groups, and will meet the HCA’s quality design and environmental standards.
In order to facilitate the smooth transfer of the remaining healthcare services on the site, the North Bristol NHS Trust will lease the site until the end of November 2009 when the Education and Training Department will transfer over to the new Learning & Research buildings at Southmead. The Trust will also continue to lease the premises for BRACE Charity for Alzheimer's research and the Regional Quality Control Laboratories until July 2010.
Sonia Mills, Chief Executive of North Bristol NHS Trust, said: “The sale of North Bristol NHS Trust’s land at the Blackberry Hill site is a significant step. The money raised from the sale will be used to help repay the historic debt and forms part of our agreed debt repayment plan.”
I would have to dispute the need for affordable housing in Fishponds as the area will be left with a glut of empty rented property when the hospital/faculty for social care closes. Fishponds doesn't suffer with a lack of such housing at the moment, with prices generally below other areas in the city. Also, surely the roads locally will be unable to handle a development of this size.
Will we find open spaces which are within the hospital boundary are also swallowed by the developers? What price the Laundry Field?
Sunday, 28 June 2009
The grass gets cut in summer and tractors come and make hay from it. Some people have complained about the long grass, but Snuff Mills Action Group has arranged for a central area to always be kept short so people can play football in the field.
Saturday, 27 June 2009
Friday, 26 June 2009
Good news! The Kingfishers that live along Grove Woods have successfully reared chicks this year. Young ones have been seen in the area (see photo) and have now been chased off by their parents to find their own territories. This is thanks to everyone's efforts to keep the area free of disturbance (unlike last year), well done!
Sunday, 21 June 2009
As part of their day the pupils also learnt more about woodlands and it was great to see some of them really get stuck in to the task too. Thanks to the school for spending some time working in the valley and to the Field Studies Council and Avon Wildlife Trust for funding and organising the day.
Friday, 29 May 2009
Sadly, we only found out we had been nominated very recently, so we are not sure how many votes we will have picked up. Anyway, it doesn't matter as we aren't campaigning to win awards, all we care about is saving our lovely wood and getting it in to safe ownership.
Find out more about the awards here: http://www.voscur.org/brispartnership#voscurcampaigns
Wednesday, 13 May 2009
The five day notice can be viewed here:
Here's what it says: Blackberry Hill/Broom Hill: Tree pruning to provide adequate clearance for vehicles, pedestrians & cyclists using Blackberry Hill.
Grove Wood Public of Way 153: Clearance of fallen trees to free access of public right of way. Covered by Tree Preservation Order No. 1092. (5 Day Notice)
Snuff Mills Action Group has been consulted on the proposal and we agree with the amount of work proposed with a few refinements.
We would like the clearance of the footpath in Grove Wood done with extreme sensitivity to avoid any disturbance of protected kingfishers, otters and bats. We are asking for all logs to be stacked well away from the river and for an ecologist to be on site at all times to ensure the work is done properly.
We have also called for one lime tree on Blackberry Hill to be less severely pruned than proposed and for a couple of elms to also be pruned a little less harshly.
We are confident that with these adaptations the footpath can be cleared and the wonderful trees along Blackberry Hill pruned sensitively without damage to their great beauty.
The five day notice system means that the landowner will be required to undertake this work and if he does not do it within a reasonable time the Council will go and do it for him - and charge him for doing it. Snuff Mills Action Group would like to congratulate Bristol City Council on its much more enlightened attitude to the issues surrounding Grove Wood. Long may it continue.
Monday, 11 May 2009
We planted a huge range of summer flowering plants that we hope will really make the garden a cheerful place to visit and enjoy. It will take a while for the new plants to establish, so please help this happen by keeping dogs off the garden and encouraging other dog owners to be equally responsible.
The next stage will be to clear the long top bed and for the Council to help us by removing the invasive plants in the big bed with the cherry tree growing in it. Once all this is done, we will replant these areas in June.
The renovations have been made possible thanks to a grant from the Co-op and money from Bristol City Council and now an additional cheque from John Lewis that arrived this week too. Thank you.
Thursday, 16 April 2009
You can help us preserve future access to Grove Woods by filling out an evidence form to say that you have used the woods for any of a variety of pastimes. Please print the two pages below, fill them in and return them to the Snuff Mills Action Group. Grove Woods are shown in green on the map above.
Wednesday, 15 April 2009
Its most recent return shows that it is a company that works in 'general construction and civil engineering' as well as 'forestry and logging'. The company was originally establised in 2003 as the 'Industrial Cutting Group Ltd'.
The company is registered in Stoke Bishop and it has a single Director, Lord Houshang Jafari Najafabadi, who appears to be the only shareholder. The Company Secretary is Yaser Jafari Najafabadi. Both reside in the location where the company is registered, along with many companies.
We can find no trace of any website or other publicly available information about Rhino Group Ltd. However, we are alarmed that it no longer seems to be the intention of Mr Jafari to use Grove Wood as 'private woods and gardens' as he has claimed in correspondence with the Council. He must now clearly see his interest in Grove Wood as some sort of commercial venture. Why else would he transfer it from his own personal ownership to that of one of his companies that has interests in construction, engineering, forestry and logging?
Thanks to Jake for undertaking this research. All the information provided here is publicly available from Companies House and no privacy codes have been broken by publishing this information. To be courteous, we have not published the precise location of where Rhino Group Ltd is registered.
The Spring Fair took £205.06p and there was a steady trickle of people all afternoon and several people seemed to spend a fair bit. Everyone worked really hard from Snuff Mills Action Group to set it up and run the stalls, make the teas and clear up afterwards. Thanks to Hilary and Sue for running the White elephant stall, Andy and John for the book stall and Janet and Hilary(2) for organising the teas and coffees. A special thank you to Annette for some wonderful cakes decorated with easter chicks and rabbits and some lovely meringues from Lesley. They all went down well with a nice warm cuppa. Lots of member's of Chris' family helped on various stalls and Jill donated loads of toiletries, but the star stall was the Cake stall, run by Alan and his wife Joan, which took over £57! Joan made loads of lovely cakes and presented them beautifully and other people also made cakes to sell.
Thanks to everyone that came along. They'll be more events soon.
Tuesday, 7 April 2009
On a sad note a dead peregrine falcon was also found during the clean up. Its body will be passed on to make sure it was not poisoned as these birds sometimes suffer persecution, though we don't think this is very likely in this case.
Saturday, 4 April 2009
Being an ancient woodland, Grove Wood is host to loads of lovely wildflowers at this time of year. At the moment the wood anemones are at their best, but don't go in the woods too early because the flowers open up in the morning and close at nighttime. Soon it will be the turn of the wild garlic and bluebells. Can you believe someone wants to stop you from enjoying this?
Maybe this person should take some lessons from nature. Just look how these celandines have tried to disguise the ugliness of the container that he put in the wood last May. We recommend that you try to ignore this monstrosity and the ridiculous fencing that greets you as you enter Grove Wood. There is the sheer beauty of nature just beyond. Enjoy!
Walkers went on a circuit of Snuff Mills and then enjoyed Grove Wood, providing further evidence that people use the woods for peaceful pastimes and so it should be designated a Town Green!
We'll be giving the garden a Spring tidy up to prepare it for our planting weekend on Sunday 19th April between 10.00-12noon. Help us get rid of some nasty weeds. Bring tools and gloves.
On Saturday 9th and Sunday 10th May we will be planting up the whole garden with a huge range of new plants thanks to generous donations from the Co-Op and individual fundraising efforts. Come and join us to help make the garden a real splash of colour for summer.