Woodlings Update

When ELF is approached by a community looking for assistance, often ELF will remain involved with that community for a long while, seeing out a relationship that sometimes lasts for years.

The next story is one of attrition, waged by a single individual on the woods that many in Glossop had grown up knowing to be their community woods, where children had roamed free for decades. Until this local person started trying to take possession of the woods for their own personal gain. After years of onslaught, fencing put up, trees removed without permission, various planning applications local people become so fed up that direct action was taken and the Woodlings occupied the wood. ELF was able to find the group assistance through the generosity of Constance Bell at Kings Chambers in Manchester.

This is an update from the Woodlings:-

Over the past few months, the Adverse Possessor (AP) still emboldened and showboating regarding his ‘success’ at court last January had approached the council making demands and requesting permission to remove several saplings we planted. He had done this in the past and after petitioning the local community the permission was refused, but apart from the refusal, no other comment or guidance was included.

 As you know the Woods has the protection of a Tree Preservation Order/Local Green Space and is designated a conservation area and the council’s response to the AP this time is a much more assertive and resounding ‘no’ together with a comprehensive document explaining why.

 The review emphasizes the fact that the Woods is protected, it should and can only be treated as such, a public amenity and the council will not consider any request that has an impact on the flora and fauna unless an accredited woodlands management plan is submitted and that plan should include public access, for the Woods to be enjoyed as a local amenity for the public to access, whomsoever might own/possess the land.

 OK this doesn’t give us possession (we’re still working on that and thanks again for your help) but the review published by the council does address the core issue – public access.

ELF has recently referred this matter to Peter Scott, long-time friend and ELF solicitor member and he has been helping the Woodlings to explore the title with a view to review what documents exist for a legal opinion on whether it is possible to identify the current owner(s) of the George Street Wood site with sufficient confidence for them to approach the Land Registry and register the site. And so we go on.

Environmental justice and a mighty victory for the Park Road Allotments, Isleworth – (David and Goliath doesn’t come close)

At the beginning of the year ELF was approached by the Isleworth Society. Having secured Rule 6 Status at a forthcoming public inquiry in October 2018 they were looking for some pro-bono assistance. ELF was lucky enough to secure for them through the ELF scheme Charlotte Gilmartin and Jonathan Metzer, both of 1 Crown Office Row.

Following a planning inquiry that lasted 8 days during October, the team for the Rule 6 Isleworth Society, with amazing input from the Society, and that of the ELF barristers and experts, we yesterday learnt that both appeals had been dismissed. This is amazing news for the whole of the community and was a matter of particularly distaste given the proposals.

The planning appeals concerned proposals by the Northumberland Estate (Duke of Northumberland) of two linked planning applications, refused at committee though recommended for approval by the local planning authority. The first application was for the construction of 80 plus private rented homes (no affordable housing) and significant car parking to be built on the Isleworth allotments site, some of the oldest allotments in London. The justification for the house building scheme was that the historic Syon House, also owned by the Duke needed upkeep going forward and that this development would pay for it. Some £9 million was said to be required to bring the house back into good repair. The second linked application proposed relocating the allotments into the Grade 1 listed Syon Park, within the grounds of Syon House.

The allotments had been taken back into management by Northumberland Estates and run down, 6 month tenancies offered and such other cynical tactics. Local residents were distressed at the prospect of losing the historic 1stworld war allotments that made up part of the local green corridor, located within a Conservation Area. There was also some unrest expressed, not least because there has already been significant commercialization of Syon Park, and despite the applicant already having had previous s106 obligations for the maintenance of the house on previous commercial development in the Park, concerns were widely expressed that such obligations have not been met.

Charlotte Gilmartin and Jonathan Metzer, both in David’s Hart’s team at 1 Crown Office Row, with Charlotte leading have done a first class job. ELF is extremely grateful to them as young ELF professional members who do so much to promote access to environmental justice for communities