“A number of errors” – council mistakes over controversial Druitt Gardens tree felling saga revealed in report

Bournemouth Echo: ERROR: Work on the Renaissance Retirement Ltd site in Christchurch ERROR: Work on the Renaissance Retirement Ltd site in Christchurch

A CATALOGUE of errors at Christchurch council has been blamed for the felling of four protected trees in Druitt Gardens.

In a report detailing the blunders ahead of a meeting of the audit and scrutiny committee on Tuesday, officers say ‘a number of errors’ were committed during the controversial saga.

Mistakes over previous planning permissions, flaws in last year’s consent, gaps in members training and time pressures all contributed to the fiasco and have led to calls for urgent improvements.

Four trees with TPOs (tree preservation orders) were cut down in early February, just weeks after a well-supported residents’ campaign to save them.

Renaissance Retirement, who have permission to build a retirement complex on the Cornfactor site, say the roots of the trees along the boundary were damaged in two separate occasions during an archaeological dig.

A full inquiry was ordered by the council following stinging criticism from residents, campaigners and even Dorset County Council’s own tree officer.

The report focuses on a ‘genuine mistaken belief’ in which officers incorrectly thought there was permission from 2007 in place to fell trees in Druitt Gardens, next to the Cornfactor site.

Under the incorrect assumption, officers believed TPOs could not be enforced. However, when the council sought independent legal opinion earlier this year, it was revealed no permission ever existed to fell the trees and the member-approved TPOs were put on the trees.

But due to ongoing talks between Renaissance and the council, independent counsel warned the authority that the developer had the legal right to carry out ‘all necessary works’ to get their building underway.

Two of the conditions of the Cornfactor development’s planning permission required details of the archaeological dig and a construction report about how the building work would be carried out.

The archaeological statement said the top layer of soil would be removed by machine and anything below that level would be removed by hand.

As part of the separate construction statement, Renaissance was asked to consider alternative foundation digging methods to minimise root disruption.

But, the costs were deemed to be ‘prohibitive’ and would have added a ‘considerable sum’ to the developer’s total bill.

The audit and scrutiny report says officers therefore concluded trench digging was necessary despite the likelihood of ‘damage and destabilisation’ to trees.

Both reports were signed off so work could begin on the site, after other options to potentially challenge the permission were deemed too costly.

An action plan devised for the planning department includes:

  •  Recruit more temporary or agency staff
  • Develop a training programme for members
  • Review committee procedure
  • Improve report writing, presentation skills and customer care
  • More contact with planning committee chairman over controversial applications

 

Flawed legal assessment

A legal assessment of the planning permission granted to Renaissance was ‘flawed’ in relation to tree issues, the report adds.

The council was forced to consider whether the planning permission should be revoked by applying to the Secretary of State or High Court or by applying for a judicial review.

However, either revoking or modifying the permission would have incurred ‘significant financial costs’, and it was agreed to grant the full permission as this option ‘exposed the council to the least risk to public finances’.

The period to challenge by way of judicial review had expired by the time deliberations took place.

Campaigners are urging residents to attend the meeting on March 18 at the Civic Offices.

Elliot Marx and Peter Fenning, both members of Trees for Dorset and Christchurch Citizens Association, said: “The Christchurch Conservation Trust, Trees for Dorset, Christchurch Citizens Association and Transition Town Christchurch all request that the general public attend this meeting to hear what actions Christchurch Council took which led to the disastrous damage to and subsequent felling of trees in Druitt Gardens which were recently given Tree Preservation Orders.

Comments (25)

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1:18pm Fri 14 Mar 14

billy bumble says...

This comes from the rear end of a bull!!!!!!

How many heads will roll? - guess
This comes from the rear end of a bull!!!!!! How many heads will roll? - guess billy bumble
  • Score: 27

1:19pm Fri 14 Mar 14

billy bumble says...

And it was produced SUSPICIOUSLY quickly
And it was produced SUSPICIOUSLY quickly billy bumble
  • Score: 21

1:23pm Fri 14 Mar 14

twynham says...

" As part of the separate construction statement, Renaissance was asked to consider alternative foundation digging methods to minimise root disruption.
But, the costs were deemed to be ‘prohibitive’ and would have added a ‘considerable sum’ to the developer’s total bill."
.
Or to put it another way, reduce, very slightly, their profit!
" As part of the separate construction statement, Renaissance was asked to consider alternative foundation digging methods to minimise root disruption. But, the costs were deemed to be ‘prohibitive’ and would have added a ‘considerable sum’ to the developer’s total bill." . Or to put it another way, reduce, very slightly, their profit! twynham
  • Score: 27

1:25pm Fri 14 Mar 14

skydriver says...

Is Cllr Nottage involved in this fiasco? He is not to be trusted on the Druitt gardens issue.
Is Cllr Nottage involved in this fiasco? He is not to be trusted on the Druitt gardens issue. skydriver
  • Score: 33

1:39pm Fri 14 Mar 14

twynham says...

" More contact with planning committee chairman over controversial applications"
.
Is this Councillor Colin Jamieson who has stated in today's Echo of Tony Ramsen who was jailed for fraud is a three time bankrupt and has a six-year ban as a company director
“Tony is a very dynamic and forward-thinking person."
.
That should work well then!
" More contact with planning committee chairman over controversial applications" . Is this Councillor Colin Jamieson who has stated in today's Echo of Tony Ramsen who was jailed for fraud is a three time bankrupt and has a six-year ban as a company director “Tony is a very dynamic and forward-thinking person." . That should work well then! twynham
  • Score: 29

1:42pm Fri 14 Mar 14

muscliffman says...

Unless there are resignations and disciplinary actions within the Council we can be assured that a complicated and long worded 'accident and errors whitewash' awaits.
Unless there are resignations and disciplinary actions within the Council we can be assured that a complicated and long worded 'accident and errors whitewash' awaits. muscliffman
  • Score: 28

1:53pm Fri 14 Mar 14

speedy231278 says...

Catalogue of errors, or catalogue of backhanders? I wonder....
Catalogue of errors, or catalogue of backhanders? I wonder.... speedy231278
  • Score: 22

1:53pm Fri 14 Mar 14

dorsetspeed says...

"A CATALOGUE of errors"
A Council?
Surely not? Oh yes I forgot. They don't operate in the real world where if they do not work their hardest to delight the customer for the minimum cost, someone else will and they will go out of business. They can simply lurch from disaster to disaster and carry on doing it forever with a bottomless pit of public money.
"A CATALOGUE of errors" A Council? Surely not? Oh yes I forgot. They don't operate in the real world where if they do not work their hardest to delight the customer for the minimum cost, someone else will and they will go out of business. They can simply lurch from disaster to disaster and carry on doing it forever with a bottomless pit of public money. dorsetspeed
  • Score: 17

2:10pm Fri 14 Mar 14

selectortone says...

What's the use of power if you can't abuse it, eh?

This whole thing stinks of back-handers and corruption. Those involved should be ashamed of themselves.
What's the use of power if you can't abuse it, eh? This whole thing stinks of back-handers and corruption. Those involved should be ashamed of themselves. selectortone
  • Score: 26

4:26pm Fri 14 Mar 14

Ruderemark says...

Oh dear here we go again. "Incorrect assumptions" & "genuine mistaken beliefs".
More Council speak, also known as gobble de gook or verbal d******
Oh dear here we go again. "Incorrect assumptions" & "genuine mistaken beliefs". More Council speak, also known as gobble de gook or verbal d****** Ruderemark
  • Score: 12

4:46pm Fri 14 Mar 14

Tictock says...

Wait for the minimum period of 7 days then the 'lessons will be learnt' patter will dribble out and other grovelling noises knowing that given six months time it will be forgotten and all carry on as before. No lessons learnt and if they were - they certainly will not be applied! The concept of a conurbation council looks more effective and real every day - get shot of these buskins'!
Wait for the minimum period of 7 days then the 'lessons will be learnt' patter will dribble out and other grovelling noises knowing that given six months time it will be forgotten and all carry on as before. No lessons learnt and if they were - they certainly will not be applied! The concept of a conurbation council looks more effective and real every day - get shot of these buskins'! Tictock
  • Score: 12

5:20pm Fri 14 Mar 14

Loyal2AFCB says...

I do not believe for one minute that certain councillors and officials were not complicit in this wanton act of vandalism.
I do not believe for one minute that certain councillors and officials were not complicit in this wanton act of vandalism. Loyal2AFCB
  • Score: 14

9:47pm Fri 14 Mar 14

xchresident says...

Read the report! a mere 174 pages on www.dorsetforyou --you may luck out at Christchurch Library if the Council has yet managed to get one there!

What a pastiche of spin and inaccurate cut and paste.

Come to the meeting on Tuesday 18th -- Christchurch Civic Offices 6 pm, but behave yourselves or it will happen behind closed doors!
Read the report! a mere 174 pages on www.dorsetforyou --you may luck out at Christchurch Library if the Council has yet managed to get one there! What a pastiche of spin and inaccurate cut and paste. Come to the meeting on Tuesday 18th -- Christchurch Civic Offices 6 pm, but behave yourselves or it will happen behind closed doors! xchresident
  • Score: 8

10:30pm Fri 14 Mar 14

Yankee1 says...

So the failed Council wants to spend more money to avoid such stupidity in the future?

Any man - or woman - of integrity would resign if they had a hand in this.

Not Christchurch Council. No sir. Integrity is so........plebeian for them.
So the failed Council wants to spend more money to avoid such stupidity in the future? Any man - or woman - of integrity would resign if they had a hand in this. Not Christchurch Council. No sir. Integrity is so........plebeian for them. Yankee1
  • Score: 9

8:10am Sat 15 Mar 14

mytown1 says...

What chance do the public have when told disruption will have the chamber cleared and proceedings go behind closed doors. No change there then!
What chance do the public have when told disruption will have the chamber cleared and proceedings go behind closed doors. No change there then! mytown1
  • Score: 10

10:08am Sat 15 Mar 14

billy bumble says...

This "Report" is a whitewash and a joke

NO investigation has taken place at all

A decent Council Leader would insist on getting to the truth - if only to preserve his votes base - and holding a proper enquiry

So what is Nottage hiding do you think?
This "Report" is a whitewash and a joke NO investigation has taken place at all A decent Council Leader would insist on getting to the truth - if only to preserve his votes base - and holding a proper enquiry So what is Nottage hiding do you think? billy bumble
  • Score: 12

3:42pm Sun 16 Mar 14

agp1337 says...

mytown1 wrote:
What chance do the public have when told disruption will have the chamber cleared and proceedings go behind closed doors. No change there then!
By law they are NOT ALLOWED to do this. If the meeting became incredibly disrupted so that it could not carry on (for example, objects thrown or continuous shouting and fist-waving) it would be postponed to be rescheduled later. It CANNOT carry on 'behind closed doors.' I've looked through the article twice and cannot see where this came from. Did anyone from the Council say it?
[quote][p][bold]mytown1[/bold] wrote: What chance do the public have when told disruption will have the chamber cleared and proceedings go behind closed doors. No change there then![/p][/quote]By law they are NOT ALLOWED to do this. If the meeting became incredibly disrupted so that it could not carry on (for example, objects thrown or continuous shouting and fist-waving) it would be postponed to be rescheduled later. It CANNOT carry on 'behind closed doors.' I've looked through the article twice and cannot see where this came from. Did anyone from the Council say it? agp1337
  • Score: 4

3:50pm Sun 16 Mar 14

agp1337 says...

xchresident wrote:
Read the report! a mere 174 pages on www.dorsetforyou --you may luck out at Christchurch Library if the Council has yet managed to get one there!

What a pastiche of spin and inaccurate cut and paste.

Come to the meeting on Tuesday 18th -- Christchurch Civic Offices 6 pm, but behave yourselves or it will happen behind closed doors!
Not true. Who said this about closed doors?
[quote][p][bold]xchresident[/bold] wrote: Read the report! a mere 174 pages on www.dorsetforyou --you may luck out at Christchurch Library if the Council has yet managed to get one there! What a pastiche of spin and inaccurate cut and paste. Come to the meeting on Tuesday 18th -- Christchurch Civic Offices 6 pm, but behave yourselves or it will happen behind closed doors![/p][/quote]Not true. Who said this about closed doors? agp1337
  • Score: 2

7:36pm Sun 16 Mar 14

xchresident says...

agp1337 wrote:
mytown1 wrote:
What chance do the public have when told disruption will have the chamber cleared and proceedings go behind closed doors. No change there then!
By law they are NOT ALLOWED to do this. If the meeting became incredibly disrupted so that it could not carry on (for example, objects thrown or continuous shouting and fist-waving) it would be postponed to be rescheduled later. It CANNOT carry on 'behind closed doors.' I've looked through the article twice and cannot see where this came from. Did anyone from the Council say it?
Don't count on it agp1337!

This is Christchurch. Better for everyone to listen carefully and record the meeting. Council was recently forced to allow public to record the process.
[quote][p][bold]agp1337[/bold] wrote: [quote][p][bold]mytown1[/bold] wrote: What chance do the public have when told disruption will have the chamber cleared and proceedings go behind closed doors. No change there then![/p][/quote]By law they are NOT ALLOWED to do this. If the meeting became incredibly disrupted so that it could not carry on (for example, objects thrown or continuous shouting and fist-waving) it would be postponed to be rescheduled later. It CANNOT carry on 'behind closed doors.' I've looked through the article twice and cannot see where this came from. Did anyone from the Council say it?[/p][/quote]Don't count on it agp1337! This is Christchurch. Better for everyone to listen carefully and record the meeting. Council was recently forced to allow public to record the process. xchresident
  • Score: 8

7:40pm Sun 16 Mar 14

agp1337 says...

xchresident wrote:
agp1337 wrote:
mytown1 wrote:
What chance do the public have when told disruption will have the chamber cleared and proceedings go behind closed doors. No change there then!
By law they are NOT ALLOWED to do this. If the meeting became incredibly disrupted so that it could not carry on (for example, objects thrown or continuous shouting and fist-waving) it would be postponed to be rescheduled later. It CANNOT carry on 'behind closed doors.' I've looked through the article twice and cannot see where this came from. Did anyone from the Council say it?
Don't count on it agp1337!

This is Christchurch. Better for everyone to listen carefully and record the meeting. Council was recently forced to allow public to record the process.
SURELY you're not saying that the Council would do anything unethical (sarcastic). I'll now be there with videocam!
[quote][p][bold]xchresident[/bold] wrote: [quote][p][bold]agp1337[/bold] wrote: [quote][p][bold]mytown1[/bold] wrote: What chance do the public have when told disruption will have the chamber cleared and proceedings go behind closed doors. No change there then![/p][/quote]By law they are NOT ALLOWED to do this. If the meeting became incredibly disrupted so that it could not carry on (for example, objects thrown or continuous shouting and fist-waving) it would be postponed to be rescheduled later. It CANNOT carry on 'behind closed doors.' I've looked through the article twice and cannot see where this came from. Did anyone from the Council say it?[/p][/quote]Don't count on it agp1337! This is Christchurch. Better for everyone to listen carefully and record the meeting. Council was recently forced to allow public to record the process.[/p][/quote]SURELY you're not saying that the Council would do anything unethical (sarcastic). I'll now be there with videocam! agp1337
  • Score: 5

3:04pm Mon 17 Mar 14

Somer88 says...

A few facts to support one of the above comments by twynham about profit.
To build foundations that would minimise the effect on trees was estimated to increase costs by £65,000. The council was told that to pay this made the project unviable as the funders could withdraw their support. There are 19 one bedroom and 7 two bedroom apartments which at present pricings will generate, and probably in excess of, £5.2m and £2.5m repectively. And this is before taking the retail units into account. Funding is by joint ventures or individuals who are looking for a return on their investment better than other areas can provide.
Now the question
So who are the funders and did they make those decisions or was this just a front put to the Council to make them back down?
A few facts to support one of the above comments by twynham about profit. To build foundations that would minimise the effect on trees was estimated to increase costs by £65,000. The council was told that to pay this made the project unviable as the funders could withdraw their support. There are 19 one bedroom and 7 two bedroom apartments which at present pricings will generate, and probably in excess of, £5.2m and £2.5m repectively. And this is before taking the retail units into account. Funding is by joint ventures or individuals who are looking for a return on their investment better than other areas can provide. Now the question So who are the funders and did they make those decisions or was this just a front put to the Council to make them back down? Somer88
  • Score: 1

5:40pm Mon 17 Mar 14

agp1337 says...

Just read, on Ray Nottage's blog, that the meeting is postponed.
Just read, on Ray Nottage's blog, that the meeting is postponed. agp1337
  • Score: 2

6:07pm Mon 17 Mar 14

Crank says...

agp1337 wrote:
Just read, on Ray Nottage's blog, that the meeting is postponed.
Yey! They can run but they can't hide.
I have just collated my three decades of pictures of our wonderland woodland as it was before stupid Dorset County Council went against the wise wishes of the donor- OVER 50 YEARS AGO - by selling it for a song (not birdsong) to Christchurch Borough Council whom she didn't trust . How sad her fears are realised. 100 trees and all the understorey gone. RIP Druitt Gardens.
Criminal council, officers and councillors.
Please - who will speak up for an ecosystem with great value and beauty but no voice? Birds, butterflies, bats, dragonflies, hedgehogs, beetles, wild flowers, majestic trees, pollen-rich wild flowers TRASHED. Ecocide.
[quote][p][bold]agp1337[/bold] wrote: Just read, on Ray Nottage's blog, that the meeting is postponed.[/p][/quote]Yey! They can run but they can't hide. I have just collated my three decades of pictures of our wonderland woodland as it was before stupid Dorset County Council went against the wise wishes of the donor- OVER 50 YEARS AGO - by selling it for a song (not birdsong) to Christchurch Borough Council whom she didn't trust . How sad her fears are realised. 100 trees and all the understorey gone. RIP Druitt Gardens. Criminal council, officers and councillors. Please - who will speak up for an ecosystem with great value and beauty but no voice? Birds, butterflies, bats, dragonflies, hedgehogs, beetles, wild flowers, majestic trees, pollen-rich wild flowers TRASHED. Ecocide. Crank
  • Score: 4

6:12pm Mon 17 Mar 14

mytown1 says...

So the meeting on Tuesday is cancelled due to review hope the council get the message that the people of Christchurch mean business and will be listened to in a fair and democratic manner.
So the meeting on Tuesday is cancelled due to review hope the council get the message that the people of Christchurch mean business and will be listened to in a fair and democratic manner. mytown1
  • Score: 7

11:08pm Mon 17 Mar 14

xchresident says...

No doubt postponed for urgent Council presentation training.

With the public now permitted to video proceedings in the Council chamber, the Council has already shown themselves up with the Leader of the Council angrily signalling the Mayor to cut short the petition speech on 25 February.

http://www.bournemou
thecho.co.uk/news/11
035986._Enough_is_en
ough____frustrated_r
esidents_call_on_Chr
istchurch_council_to
_honour_Druitt_Garde
ns_covenant/?ref=var
_0

That speaks volumes about the regard for democratic participation and for Council transparency.
No doubt postponed for urgent Council presentation training. With the public now permitted to video proceedings in the Council chamber, the Council has already shown themselves up with the Leader of the Council angrily signalling the Mayor to cut short the petition speech on 25 February. http://www.bournemou thecho.co.uk/news/11 035986._Enough_is_en ough____frustrated_r esidents_call_on_Chr istchurch_council_to _honour_Druitt_Garde ns_covenant/?ref=var _0 That speaks volumes about the regard for democratic participation and for Council transparency. xchresident
  • Score: 2

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