Save Grove Wood!

We Love Trees from the ‘Destruction of Grove Wood’ group forwards the following report and advice from Tuesday’s Full Council Meeting:

Until the webcast appears, people can read the public statements here:
http://www.bristol.gov.uk/item/committeecontent/?ref=ta&code=ta000&year=2008&month=10&day=14&hour=18&minute=00

The offer of a meeting between local residents, the landowner, local members (SMAG and Parks?) and relevant officers is very welcome but there is still the very immediate need for the Council to take action to protect the wood, the public amenity and the wildlife as they should have done already.

Officers already have the power to impose a Tree Preservation Order (under the Town & Country Act 1990 and Tree Regulations 1999) and have had several clear reasons to do this (primarily the massacre of trees in January 2008) so there’s actually no need to debate this particular element or waste any more time!

If the meeting becomes another greenwash people should then be prepared to take the matter to the Secretary of State and the Ombudsman if a satisfactory outcome is not reached soon.

Details of the destruction here:
http://destructionofgrovewood.blogspot.com
Details of the value of the area here:
http://snuffmills.blogspot.com

This entry was posted in Activism, Bristol, Developments, Environment, Frome Vale/Fishponds, Local government, Politics and tagged . Bookmark the permalink.

39 Responses to Save Grove Wood!

  1. sdpp says:

    I caught a bit of the webcast live. They had technical problems with the sound. It was either switched off or vv quiet with static.

    So I don’t think the Webcast will be appearing ..

  2. Paul Smith says:

    There is not a great deal of excitment about the prospects of meeting the landowner again. the question is what new fantasy will he dream up this time:

    We have had fountains, deer a new Ashton Court. Perhaps he will propose a cricket pitch this time. One hopes that the meeting will open the eyes of the council to the threat and start taking enforcement action.

  3. Paul – don’t give him any more ideas!

    What is completely outrageous about this whole matter is the Council know who Jafari is and are aware of his unconventional development activities in other parts of the city, Bristol residents know who he is and Jafari himself knows what he has done in a conservation area. To think otherwise is complete denial of the highest level!

  4. SteveL says:

    How about Wolves? Like they were proposing for bits of Scotland. it would make going for a walk there far more entertaining, and any of the lunchtime runners would cut minutes off their normal times.

  5. Paul Smith says:

    don’t give him ideas – although think his tree cutting interests might lead him to beavers

  6. The Council are finally considering applying a Tree Preservation Order to Grove Wood. This will reverse the existing planning application to fell 27 mature trees and will preserve the existing habitat for its wildlife. More news soon!

  7. GOOD NEWS & PROGRESS AT LAST!
    The Council will consider applying a Tree Preservation Order to Grove Wood at the South & East Area Development Control Committee Meeting on 29th October 2008, 2.00pm. If you are in support you can submit a statement and if possible attend the meeting to read it out. As well as reversing the current planning application to fell 27 trees this will put in force better protection for the conservation area and its wildlife. To achieve this please expressly request a blanket TPO in your statement.
    Deadline: 12.00 noon on Tuesday 28th October 2008
    Send to: patricia.l.jones@bristol.gov.uk

    Read the report here:
    http://www.bristol.gov.uk/item/committeecontent/?ref=wa&code=wa003&year=2008&month=10&day=29&hour=14&minute=00

    Background information here:
    http://destructionofgrovewood.blogspot.com/
    http://snuffmills.blogspot.com/

  8. Members of the South & East Area Development Control Committee voted in favour of applying a blanket Tree Preservation Order to Grove Wood today, 29th October 2008. Congratulations go out to the Snuff Mills Action Group and everyone who has supported the campaign to save these trees and get better protection for this well loved corner of Bristol. It’s been long and arduous, to say the least!

    This puts in force better protection for the wood, its wildlife and the public amenity of trees because the conservation status was not considered enough protection for this important area. It also means the line of mature trees running up Blackbery Hill have been saved from felling. This reverses planning application 08/02173/DC which would have removed 27 trees in addition to those destroyed in January 2008 without any permission.

    However, many questions need answering and this is not the end of the campaign to ensure this wood is preserved for the wildlife, its protected species and generations of people to come.

    http://destructionofgrovewood.blogspot.com/

  9. Cann2010 says:

    Blanket Preservation order on Grove Woods anounced tonight !!!!!!!!!!!????

    Shame people had to come out of their homes to full council to get it –
    Previous calls, petitions, statements and rallies being conveniently ignored.
    Maybe it’s not worth webcasting full council
    if you have to turn up to get anything to happen!
    Expenses!
    Let’s hope the school children kept up late have the same recognition for their valiant efforts in preserving what’s important to them –
    Must be an election year looming !

  10. Get Real says:

    Fantastic news! Finally extra protection for this beautiful ancient woodland.

    This is one in the eye for greed and profit.

  11. SilentBob says:

    Sincere congratulations, fantastic news: if only there were community medals available for people like you!

  12. Des Bowring says:

    A magnificent effort well rewarded. Congrats to everybody involved.

  13. Autumn Leaves says:

    Yes, well done people … and well done our elected representatives …

    Down there last week I was lucky enough to be able to observe a kingfisher for about five minutes. It even caught a fish.

  14. Get Real says:

    Very interesting Council meeting I thought. Though a great shame that Lord Jafari was not allowed to speak.

    I’ll tell you one thing. I don’t hold out much hope for Stoke Park and Purdown judging by the abstention of Emma Bagley, Lib Dem Councillor for Lockleaze. As someone who has voted Lib Dem at the last two General Elections, she’s made me decide not to do so again. I used to think Tories were narrow minded, but this campaign has showed me that conservatives are everywhere, regardless of party. Lockleaze people deserve better and the Liberals need more people like Steve Comer who REALLY cares about the environment and ALL people.

  15. Mrs Trebus says:

    Get real , the terrible fact is that neo-liberals are everywhere regardless of party. The Big Three-in-One Party is completely riddled with neoliberalism.

    Real conservatives would be doing what it says on the tin; conserving wildlife, our heritage, and the environment.

    Sadly, however, real conservatives are an endangered breed in these degraded modern times of false “progress”.

    The so-called Tory Party stopped being conservative decades ago and should change its name.

    NuLabour is the club of multinational Big Business cronies, say no more.

    As for the Liberal Democrat section, well, the record shows that the party has an unfortunate tendency to bounce around like rubber – in more ways than one 😉

    But, there’s always decent individuals in any party machine. Have you tried asking Emma Bagley herself why she abstained? Easy, since she has a handy blog, link in the BB side-bar.

  16. Spectator says:

    Indeed Mrs Trebus. Some people think that the word “conservative” means “something I don’t like”. The strange thing is that the policies that they are usually objecting to are anything but conservative, and are usually neo-liberal or socialist policies.

    It’s amazing what effective propoganda can do…

  17. Absolutely! Some traditional conservative morals are definitely required to protect the character of this city and its historic green spaces. I think we will see this emerging as a major issue and site another example with Lesley Alexander’s (Conservative, Frome Vale) campaign and petition against the proposed Park & Ride on the Stapleton Allotments:
    http://epetitions.bristol.gov.uk/petition.php?id=214

    Yes, I think an explanation from Emma Baggley about her abstention for the TPO is very much required. However, she does picture herself cutting down the wildlife on her blog. I think we are all confused about woodland management, wildlife preservation and public amenity and that it is the Council’s duty to manage this far more efficiently.

    Let’s hope there current advertisements for green and open space project officers attract some real professionals who know what they are doing, especially in terms of public consultation.

  18. Emma Bagley says:

    Grove Woods. This did indeed come to DC South & East on Wednesday. This was the second time this issue has been brought to the committee and there were a considerable number of representations from residents and interested parties.

    There was anxiety about what would happen to the woods and a paper had been brought from officers. There were a number of options described; amongst these a blanket Tree Preservation Order (TPO), partial TPO etc

    What became clear from the meeting was that something needed to be done. As Councillors we need to make decisions at planning meetings based on guidance, advice and relevant planning laws. We make decisions based on the facts before us, with a clear mind, and not on a party political basis. You quite often get Councillors from different ‘sides’ agreeing or disagreeing on planning points regardless of political affiliation.

    A motion was put to the meeting for a blanket TPO. Now, I believed, on the facts before me that a selective TPO would have been more suitable. That’s my personal opinion and I’m sure that others would take a different view. That is my reason for abstaining. Let’s be clear, I did not vote against the proposal because on the merits that would have been inappropriate.

    At the end of the day, we make decisions as Councillors based on judgment. As I say earlier each case has it’s merits and I’m sure that the public would want to see us come to DC meetings with open minds and to balance up the arguments.

    With regards to Lockleaze – yes the issue of Purdown is still on the horizon. I back residents and Friends of South Purdown’s bid to keep Purdown Green. In fact a public inquiry is due at the start of December to discuss Public Right of Way issues. I have consistently believed other sites such as Muller Road would be preferable for sports pitches than the Purdown site. Also delivering much needed community facilities.

    As for the photo on my blog. Yes I see your point – but that was from environmental work in June with BTCV in Sussex tackling encroaching laurel. So yes I do have a saw in my hand but we were helping allow a breath of fresh air into the surrounding forest floor so that the Redwoods could flourish.

  19. Martyn Whitelock says:

    Emma – Thanks for taking the time to respond to the requests for an explanation of your abstention. It is comforting to know that councillors approach each issue on its own merits rather than following party lines.

    However, I think some people are concerned your abstention means that you are in favour of the Blackberry Hill tress being felled, assuming you prefer the partial TPO. Is that so or were you abstaining as you didn’t feel you had enough of an understanding to cast a ‘for’ or ‘against’ vote? As you know, these trees are a well known landmark which directly contribute to the character of this conservation area.

  20. Get Real says:

    Thank you for replying Emma.

    I take it you were going to vote for a partial TPO which would have meant 22 of the 27 trees next to Blackberry Hill would have been cut down rather than managed and pruned. As Martyn said these trees directly contribute to the character of this Conservation Area.

    Did you actually go and see for yourself why people may not have wanted these trees to be felled. While I respect your opinion, thankfully the right decision has been made and everyone who enjoys these woods is delighted with the outcome.

    I just hope you really do take the protection of greenspaces in Bristol seriously as many are under threat at the moment. I often walk Purdown and Stoke Park and always think how lucky we are to have such an area and how tragic in would be to have another housing estate or whatever built on it.

  21. Martyn Whitelock says:

    Emma – I forgot to say, there is already a certain level of cross-party agreement on applying a TPO to the wood as the Conservation Status isn’t enough: Lesley Alexander (Conservative), Steve Comer (LibDem) and Paul Smith (Labour).

    Any thoughts?

  22. Halcyon says:

    To be fair to the Lib Dems, I think Charlie Price from Labour also absteined and if it wasn’t for Lib Demmer David Kitson proposing the blanket TPO at the start of the debate, this issue could have been discussed forever and a day, especially with officers offering four different options to Councillors and the obvious reservations of two Councillors as demonstrated by their abstentions. So if the debate had been protracted, it’s possible we’d have got something watered down from the fantastic result of a blanket TPO. This is something that protects all of the trees in Grove Wood, not just the Blackberry Hill ’27’.

    By the way, Bill Payne (Lab, Frome Vale) is also an ardent supporter of the campaign to save Grove Wood, so it has genuine cross-party support by all affected ward Councillors (Paul Smith is not a Councillor).

  23. Paul Smith says:

    and don’t forget Charlie Bolton from the greens, he has supported froma distance. That makes four parties on the council.

  24. The rapid mass destruction of the wood in Eastville Park this weekend (Sat 8th & Sun 9th Nov) is clear evidence of what happens to woods under private ownership. It is not good enough for this to be sanctioned as a solution to curtail social problems such as prostitution and drug-use. These happen behind closed doors bet we don’t bulldoze those properties down! Our environment and wildlife habitat is far more valuable than this.

    This is precisely why a Tree Preservation Order was needed for Grove Wood and the Council’s Development Control Committee have made the best decision in granting one, not least as a precautionary measure.

    You think the Amazon has problems!!!

  25. whole environment needs protection says:

    It’s awful to think, but could this destruction be a panic response by a landowner to the blanket tpo just issued on grove woods? Even more awfully, could this mean more landowners all over Bristol, even Britain, panicing and chopping trees down before local people can protect them? What we really need to stop all these problems is a lot stronger protection for the whole environment against greedy and stupid destroyers. Trees, birds, animals, they can’t speak for themselves, they need us to help out.

  26. The owner of Grove Wood (the self named Lord Jafari) is appealing against the Tree Preservation Order which the South & East Development Control Committee granted on 29th October 2008.

    If this Council has any credibility he will get nowhere because the issue has already been well debated and senior Council members uphold the public’s opinion, including Peter Hammond, Rosalie Walker and Mark Bradshaw. Either way, his opposition to the TPO clearly demonstrates a hidden agenda and a sustained disregard for this environment, as evidenced by the illegal removal of numerous trees in January 2008.

    More crucially, the wood has been allowed to fall into further mis-management under his ownership with fallen trees left blocking public rights of way, a tree who’s canopy spans the river and a disused portocabin which has intruded upon the visual amenity for many months.

    Bristol citizens and the wider public who pay their council taxes deserve much better service than this, let alone the wildlife!

  27. The landowner and two workmen are causing havoc in Grove Wood, once again! He seems to like January to conduct his dodgy works by stealth. Unfortunately for him there is a very active local community and strong campaign group but it would be fantastic if more people got involved, simply by walking in this beautiful corner of Bristol 🙂

    There is no planning permission for any permanent structure yet temporary fencing will be concreted into the ground. This will also stop access to a footpath which is currently being designated as a public right of way.

    See more here:
    http://destructionofgrovewood.blogspot.com/

  28. Protest Walk – Sunday 25th January 2009

    Come and enjoy Grove Wood and join a legal and peaceful protest at the landowner’s latest attempt to take away the public’s right to walk through all the wood by fencing it off. Meet in Snuff Mills car park at 2pm. All welcome!

    Help stop this businessman ruining a beautiful corner of Bristol and annoying another peaceful community.

  29. Holly says:

    There is no way Lord Jafari can be a real lord as he works on his own land – ha, ha!

    See photos here:
    http://destructionofgrovewood.blogspot.com/

    BB: May we have a bit more focus upon local issues, please – what you and this blog does so well.

  30. Get Real says:

    Why has Mr Jafari and his henchmen stopped doing any more work along the public foot path in Grove Wood ? The work I have seen done has been very unprofessional and looks like it’s been done by cowboys. Mr Jafari himself was also seen helping with the work, surely a real Lord with money could afford to get professionals in to do such delicate operations?

    I was shocked by the size of some of the tree stumps that were dragged out of the riverbank. Real proof, if we ever needed it, that last January’s work was illegal and that the real evidence for this was hidden in the bank he created.

  31. Holly says:

    Mr Jafari and his henchmen returned to construct a ridiculous maze of fencing on 2nd March 2009. Surely this is completely unacceptable in a conservation area and should be removed. However, the Council fear the landowner bringing a legal case against them, at cost to the tax payer. The public are fed up because they perceive the Council to not be enforcing their statutory duty concerning the environment. We sympathise greatly with the Council’s position but surely it’s time to take action? The sooner this wood is in responsible ownership (and not being purposefully degraded by the well-known rogue property developer) the better!

    Once past the fencing you can still enjoy the majority of the woodland so you shouldn’t feel put-off going there – this is what the landowner wants. If anything, visitor numbers are increasing as the landowner has encouraged lots of publicity via his inappropriate treatment of the land and persistent misuse of planning procedures. The lower riverside path has been a public right of way for many years so it is perfectly legal to walk there. If you encounter any problems or see anyone damaging the trees which are now protected please contact the Snuff Mills Action Group.

    http://destructionofgrovewood.blogspot.com/
    http://snuffmills.blogspot.com/

  32. Holly says:

    Here’s another example of the landowner (‘ICON’ – actually Mr Jafari, who calls himself a lord – ha, ha!) trying to bully people off the land:
    http://www.troopershill.org.uk/discuss.htm
    Go to: ICON PARK AT GROVE WOOD

    Actually, he should have completed the PRW footpath clearance by now but is manipulating the Council into keeping the portocabin on the land in further attempts to piss off the public and to try to establish a development there.

  33. Help Make The TPO Permanent!

    The Council will consider the landowner’s challenge to the Tree Preservation Order (TPO) at the Development Control (South and East) Committee on 1st April 2009, 2pm. If you want the Council to retain the current TPO you can submit a statement with your reasons to democratic services and attend the meeting at the Council House. Please ask the Council to CONFIRM the Woodland Tree Preservation Order WITHOUT ANY CHANGES TO IT.

    There will be another protest outside the Council House at 1.40pm on 1st April – bring banners and placards.

  34. Holly says:

    According to the survey by Landmark, 200 trees were scheduled for felling at Grove Wood, so says Jon Bown. It is now very clear what the plans are for this woodland so it’s just as well the TPO was recently made permanent by the Council.

    “The survey was undertaken on 20 February 2008 by a licensed bat worker (Dr J Knight).
    John Brown, the Council’s Tree Officer was present at the start of the survey to highlight
    those trees that had fallen and blocked the footpath and are in need of immediate
    removal, and also to indicate the area containing c.200 trees near the footpath that are
    scheduled for imminent removal.”

  35. Holly says:

    ps. This has finally been published within public statement No.40 (MairVeritas) from the South & East Development Control meeting on 1st April:
    http://www.bristol.gov.uk/item/committeecontent/?ref=wa&code=wa003&year=2009&month=04&day=01&hour=14&minute=00

  36. anon-y-mouse says:

    The mystery unfolds… as if we didn’t know from the beginning! (Pasted from the SMAG blog)
    —-

    It was revealed at the recent Council meeting to confirm the Tree Preservation Order by John Mair, the land agent for Grove Wood, that the ownership of the wood had been transferred to Rhino Group Ltd. We’ve now received the publicly available documents on this company from Companies House.

    It’s 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.

  37. anon-y-mouse says:

    Here’s news about the latest chunk of Bristol’s green belt which looks set for development by the Homes & Communities Agency, sanctioned by government pressure to build new housing.

    Laundry Field is a large area of open green space that was part of the Blackberry Hill Hospital site recently sold off by the NHS. Adjoining Grove Wood, it overlooks the Frome Valley and is part of the same conservation area. Signs were erected today (27th July 2009) to restrict public access despite this being open to the public for generations.

    http://laundryfield.blogspot.com

  38. Wood Nymph says:

    GOOD NEWS! The woodland is slowely being returned to its former state.

    On 24th September 2009, Bristol City Council ordered the landowner to remove the monstrous eyesore of a portacabin, within 28 days. After months and months of campaigning they seem to be taking all the necessary action to protect this woodland for the public and its wildlife… or is this the effect of the change to a LibDem administration?

    The Council have also cleared the lower footpath of all the fallen trees, making the path safer and accessible to more people. They have also brought the overhanging roadside trees into line with highway regulations so the landowner can no longer apply to fell any under health and safety reasons.

    Read more here:
    http://destructionofgrovewood.blogspot.com
    http://snuffmills.blogspot.com

  39. Woodpecker says:

    The community and supposed protected wildlife have endured almost two years of the landowner (the infamous Mr Jafari) playing games with planning laws and the local authority but finally Bristol City Council have withdrawn the permitted development rights at Grove Wood. This decision came following the portacabin being shunted further into the wood with an old tractor in complete disregard of the legal notice served intended to force its removal.

    These planning laws don’t appear to be particularly effective, do they!?!

    Some good news is that the campaign group is as strong as ever and although the Council appear slow at taking action this is because everything requires authorisation from their legal department.

    So, same old status quo that beaurocracy gets in the way of real protection and we have to wait until a rogue property developer does something serious before their land is taken off them.

    Does anyone know what happens to the fines incurred by landowners? Where does the money go?

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