Grove Woods: more intrigue

by anon-y-mouse

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.

Ffi: Snuff Mills Action Group

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

36 Responses to Grove Woods: more intrigue

  1. BristolDave says:

    I worked with Yaser many moons ago. I thought he’d gone back to Iran?

  2. W00dburner says:

    Very much alive and kicking in Bristol and causing his neighbours in Stoke Bishop, Stapleton and elsewhere much grief.

  3. Paul Smith says:

    It would be good if the info on this character could be collated, while I am aware of what he is up to in Grove Wood not sure about elsewhere – and outside Bristol?

  4. Holly says:

    What has become apparent is that Councils only deal with companies and are not that concerned with who is behind them, even when the owners have deeply concerning histories. In all other aspects of our lives our identities are closely scrutinised – perhaps why property development is so popular with certain individuals.

  5. snafu says:

    “In all other aspects of our lives our identities are closely scrutinised”

    Yes, but we are just the “little people” as helmsley put it. We are just the replaceable units of production and don’t matter.

    Corporations “live” forever and are what’s important. Isn’t that called corporatism?

    First rule of the parasite is to numb the host.

  6. Steve Comer says:

    Believe me the Council is well aware of the ownership of Rhino Group. It was in the submission on the Tree Preservation Order.

    Ever since this saga started there has been a lack of clarity from the landowner as to what his true intentions are for this wood, that is why everyone is so nervous and suspicious of him.

    The Snuff Mills Action Group are local people who only came together last year when the trees were felled. They are doing a terrific job in publicising the problems and doing practical work to improve Snuff Mills and its surrounds.

    ‘People power’ worked with Royate Hill in the ’90s, I believe in the end it will triumph here too.

  7. BristolDave says:

    I’m dubious how valid his “Lord” title is (could he have bought it?) – despite how big his house is.

  8. thebristolblogger says:

    Nah. the title’s totally legit.

    He actually seems more honest than your average toff to me.

  9. “I’m dubious how valid his “Lord” title is (could he have bought it?)”

    Ahh. You see Dave, it’s not a title, it’s his name… Barbara Janke could add a new first name of “Dame”, to become “Dame Barbara Janke”… very fitting.

    Garry Hopkins could change his name by deed poll to “Emperor Hopkins”… now there’s a thought eh Gary?

  10. Lord Halcyon says:

    As far as anyone could tell at the time, Mr Jafari, for he is not really a Lord of the realm, bought the wood in his own name at the end of 2007. Depending on who he has been speakng with, he has since said he wants the wood as an ‘Ashton Court’ for this part of Bristol with deer and statues in memory of his own greatness, an area where clients for his new therapy centre in the Riverside Units and his own private park and garden. He’s also been overheard saying that he intends to build on at least part of it although he knows he will not get plannng permission for five years.

    All this is a load of fluff and bluster of course and actions always speak much louder than words with Mr Jafari. What I think is deeply revealing here is that the ownership has been transferred to a company that works in development and civil engineering, logging and forestry. The fact that it was origninally called the Industrial Cutting Group clinches it for me. There’s a lot in that name. The company wasn’t called the Sustainable Forestry Management Group for example, it was INDUSTRIAL CUTTING. If nothing, this demonstrates the mindset of Mr Jafari. His ownership is all about making money out of Grove Wood however he can, including no doubt trying to rip off the Council and the community if he ever is gracious enough to offer it up for sale.

    The Council should compulsory purchase it off him now before he comes up with anymore dubious company names to transfer ownership of Grove Wood to. No doubt he is busy registering his latest new company as we speak. Any chance it will be called ‘I Con Destruction Group Ltd’. Afterall, honesty is the best policy Mr J.

  11. W00dburner says:

    Rhino construction – woodland management by a herd of Rhinos eh?

  12. Holly says:

    Even more intrigue!

    A very peculiar court hearing took place between an ex-tree officer and guess who… Bristol City Council!!!

    Cardiff Administrative Court
    10.30am Friday 3rd July 2009
    Court 16: Co/3998/2009 Bown v Bristol City Council
    http://www.hmcourts-service.gov.uk/cms/list_admin_cardiff.htm

    What is going on? Any further challenge should have gone to the Secretary of State but the landowner probably wouldn’t want this level of publicity due to his reputation for breaking Permitted Development Rights in the city, as well as his dodgy past. So why is this person – not the landowner – challenging the Tree Preservation Order at Grove Wood? What business is it to him? What could be the possible motivations?

    Get your head round that one BB, and everyone!

  13. Dormouse says:

    Why would a current employee of Bristol City Council take them to court when he has no material interest in the woodland? If he loses the case how will this humble ex tree officer pay the costs? An investigative journalist should have a close look at this case.

  14. Holly says:

    Dormouse – Good idea about an investigative journalist, but a GOOD one. I’m sure the Evening Post will be covering this episode so let’s hope for someone really professional and thorough. The whole Grove Wood saga could probably provide material for a documentary on how our environment is degraded by rogue developers and mis-managed by local authorities. Surely the BBC are interested in this, what with their office in Bristol. Any takers?

  15. Holly says:

    Newsflash!

    The hearing (Bown v Bristol City Council, Cardiff Administrative Court) has been dismissed as the court found in favour of Bristol City Council because the complainent, Mr Bown, was not the aggrieved party (i.e. the landowner, Lord Jafari).

    So WHY has a council tree officer opposed the Tree Preservation Order at Grove Wood, going against all the formal decision making? Can someone do some research as many questions require answering. Furthermore, who is stumping up the money for Bristol City Council to defend themselves against their own employee?… not the tax payer again!

  16. The Bristol Blogger says:

    Is Bown still a BCC employee?

  17. anon-y-mouse says:

    BB- That is a good question and hopefully council staff (who have also suffered his attack) now understand the kind of animosity which the public have received from this character.

  18. paul smith says:

    I hope the council was awarded costs

  19. Lady Snuffers - Greenwood says:

    Not only should he pay costs but I am struggling to see how he can continue working for BCC.

  20. Holly says:

    What the hell is going on at Grove Wood? There is a lot of concern about the Council’s recommendation for essential tree works which they will be performing on Wednesday 22nd July 2009, if the landowner doesn’t meet this deadline.

    There is confusion over whether it was the Highways Agency or BCC who did the recent pruning which has been commended by campaigners and local residents for its sensitivity toward the Tree Preservation Order, and associated wildlife. If it was the Highways Agency then surely this means the new state of the trees complies with their regulations, so why does the Council consider it necessary to further remove numerous trees and their limbs?

    The Council are also still falsly stating the location of these trees by using ‘Broom Hill’ instead of ‘Blackberry Hill’. A quick glance at a Bristol A-Z clearly shows the road names.

    Whilst the public agrees with the necessary removal of trees along the riverside and footpath (PRW153) the degree of work which now looks imminent for the Blackberry Hill trees goes against the grain of the campaign group’s efforts and the numerous members of the public who want these trees retained for their high amenity value.

    Earth First – where are you???
    http://www.earthfirst.org

  21. Steve Micklewright says:

    This is a gross over-reaction Holly and what you have said is a gross misrepresentation of Snuff Mills Action Group’s position over the Blackberry Hill trees. We have always said that the trees on Blackberry Hill need to be pruned and managed to prevent possible injuries to cyclists and pedestrians. After all, if anyone ever got hurt, that would be the strongest argument for having them clear felled.

    As you well know, the council served a notice a few weeks ago to enforce the landowner to clear the fallen trees that block the footpath in Grove Wood so that the public can enjoy this right of way.

    At the same time the council served notice for some treeworks along Blackberry Hill. Two people from Snuff Mills Action Group went and checked the specification that the council sent us and it is generally a proportionate response to the Health and Safety issues posed by the trees to cyclists and pedestrians.

    No one knows who pruned the trees a couple of weeks ago. Maybe it was a disgruntled cyclist or the council having a little preliminary look. But all the Council are going to do now is to lift the crowns of the trees so that they do not pose a future danger to cyclists and pedestrians. It’s true that the council have proposed to fell a couple of trees that lean in to the road. In response Snuff Mills Action Group has proposed that some of these trees could just be pruned. One or two very small trees that the council want to remove could actually be cut back to ground level and then allowed to regrow if the stumps were not treated. No tree would die in the process and the view will not be dramatically altered.

    I think BCC should actually be congratulated for once. They are seriously trying to deal with preserving these trees as well as their obligations under law regarding obstructions to the highway. This is a far cry from the response we had last year when the landowner applied to fell the lot of them and was granted permission.

  22. Lesley Alexander says:

    I agree with Steve Micklewrights comments. The Council have a duty to ensure the safety of the public which they are doing whilst remaining sensitive to the woodland and wildlife. They have to do some maintenance but this is far better than the position we were in last year when permission was given to fell all of the trees, they are aware of public concern and are dealing with this well on this occasion so please allow them to do so without problems.

  23. Dormouse says:

    I think Holly’s comments are a total overreaction. Essential works do need to be carried out on the site and are going to be carried out very sympathetically by BCC. Secondly, I will be glad to see the public foot path finally cleared of fallen down trees which block access for walkers and cyclists. I think BCC should be given the chance to show they care about Grove Wood and it’s maintenance. It’s little bit of light pruning of over hanging trees NOT deforestation

  24. Mark Logan says:

    Holly, you state that you are confused over who did the work to the trees on Blackberry Hill. Have you asked the council/Highways?
    The council also states the address for the tree works on their website as Broom Hill/Blackberry Hill and the notices are posted next to the trees that are intended to have works done on them so as to inform the public of intended works. If anyone is any doubt they can telephone the case officer. So whats the problem?
    You also state “the degree of work which now looks imminent for the Blackberry Hill trees goes against the grain of the campaign group’s efforts and the numerous members of the public who want these trees retained for their high amenity value.”
    As a member of the campaign group (Snuff Mills Action Group) and Chairman of the Stapleton and Frome Valley Conservation Society I would be keen to understand where you came to this conclusion. Both groups have discused the works to be undertaken and have responded to the councils application for works to be undertaken on the trees, via the correct planning procedures. The council have taken note of these comments and as such have both groups support. To my knowledge nobody has raised issues to these groups regarding their concerns over the works to be undertaken.
    It begs the question do you actually know what is proposed.
    Lastly why do you feel the need to call for earth first to become involved. Since SMAG was formed they have achieved positive results for the protection of the trees and as such have gained the support of the council in the protection of the woods, why try and invoke negative responses from the public that so often occurs when direct action takes place. We live here and we are happy protecting our woodland we do not need direct action to protect them.

  25. Mogz says:

    I would certainly urge the excitable to keep their powder dry – we have indeed all had time to consider the proposals put forward by BCC and there didn’t seem to be any disagreement at the time. Having BCC do the work is a twofold benefit.

    1) The work gets done without undue damage or anyone straying off into the wood with a chainsaw,
    and
    2) The landowner gets charged for the work and Grove Wood becomes a burden to him which he may well want to offload.

    When the time comes that bulldozers enter the wood to level it then let’s talk about direct action. Not before.

  26. Martyn says:

    I think Holly and others who have followed the campaign from a distance (over the internet and on the grape vine) probably thought the TPO meant the trees would be left completely untouched, which is an understandable misinterpretation.

    Also, if you take a look at the way BCC treat trees throughout the city you can understand why people are so concerned:
    http://www.bristolstreettrees.org/BRISTOLSTREETTREES/Stumps.html

    However, people must be reassured the forthcoming tree works are necessary requirement of landowner’s duties (not complied with to date) and will benefit the woodland in the long term.

    It is very concerning that no one knows who pruned the trees a couple of weeks ago as this would indicate the woodland is still vulnerable to abuse. Is anybody at the Council actually monitoring the tree works? My concern is that the landowner will panic and run amok as he did in January 2008!

  27. Mark Logan says:

    Point taken, but a lot of effort has been put in getting the council on side and asking for direct action is not helpful and could undermine everbodys hard work

  28. Steve Micklewright says:

    Having been involved in direct action at Royate Hill in the 90s, I feel this is an action that should only be undertaken in extreme circumstances. In that case the land was being bulldozed illegally during a Bank Holiday weekend. We had no choice but to try to stop the bulldozing while someone was finding a judge to serve an injunction to stop the bulldozing legally. However, if we had waited for that to happen the whole site would have been destroyed. The sensible pruning of trees along Blackberry Hill is in a different league and direct action would be counter-productive

  29. Gary Hopkins says:

    Pleased to see positive comments about our new approach.
    One of the big reasons for past failures in many areas has been failure to tie together the work of different departments.
    Setting clear objectives and making certain officers know the importance of them is vital.

    We have also shifted the balance a little in the decisions on trees. There is a constant pressure against mature trees from insurance claims,health and safety etc. which is balanced against the positive ammenity and environmental value. We are gradually instilling the ethos that street trees are innocent until PROVED guilty.
    The reason that stumps are left in the pavement if a tree has to be cut down is so that the site is not lost. The policy is to look for larger trees where we can.There are areas where street trees have been removed in the past and it is then very expensive to reinstate the site from scratch.

  30. w00dburner says:

    Holly, get a grip. The council is the best agent to do the work in the circs. Earth First aren’t involved and nor should they be. It’s a storm in a teacup. the council need to be allowed to get on with the job without people getting in a lather for no good reason. There will be treeworks. Get over it.

  31. Martyn says:

    Holly- if you visit the site you will notice the need for the tree works. This is not apparent from any images you may have seen on other blogs as heavily leaning trees are hidden in the crowns. The wall also needs to be protected to preserve the conservation status of the area, which includes both architectural and arborcultural aspects. The footpath has to be cleared of fallen trees. This not only maintains public access (particularly for wider members of our community) but teaches landowners some of their responsibilities for owning woodland.

    Gary- I wish to pick up on the confusion over who performed the recent pruning of the Blackberry Hill trees, particularly as you are a proponent of joined-up thinking. Like others, I monitor the wood very closely and saw a Highways lorry on Blackberry Hill on the same day this took place. I would like to know if the Highways Agency is operating separately from the Council, and if so why is this necessary given the degree of work about to be undertaken by the BCC? This concerns me in terms of sustainaility issues and mis-spent tax payer’s money.

  32. anon-y-mouse says:

    The report is now published on the recent failed attempt to quash the TPO in the High Court, as the claimant was judged not to be an aggrieved party or eligible objector: Co/3998/2009 – Jonathan Bown v Bristol City Council.

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

    Full report:
    http://www.bailii.org/cgi-bin/markup.cgi?doc=/ew/cases/EWHC/Admin/2009/1747.html&query=title+(+bown+)&method=boolean

    Snuff Mills Action Group have issued a press release but nothing has appeared in the local media quite yet.

  33. Jon Rogers says:

    There are now more details on the Snuff Mills Action Group site…

    http://snuffmills.blogspot.com/2009/07/curious-court-case.html

    Jon

  34. The Bristol Blogger says:

    Do you intend to dismiss this clown Bown Jon?

    Or is it normal practice at the council for an employee to take you to court if they disagree with a democratic decision?

  35. Sarah Jane says:

    I’m curious about what this section of the judge’s statement actually means:

    “As is clear from the documentation which the Claimant has submitted in this case he feels passionately that a Woodland Tree Preservation Order over the whole of the wood was completely unjustified. As I understand it he has made that view known with vigour to his employers, the Defendant. It does not seem to me to be necessary to recite in this judgment the steps which the Claimant has taken internally to make his view known about (a) the merits, in planning terms, of the making of a Tree Preservation Order and (b) the legality of the Defendant’s actions. ”

    The question is, did Mr Bown exceed his role as a Tree Officer in pursuing ‘with vigour’ his attempts to get the TPO removed . So I am off to do a little investigating.

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