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VALIDITY OF COUNCIL'S TREE PRESERVATION ORDER NO LONGER IN DOUBT

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A Bridlington businessman has lost his high court battle to scrap a tree preservation order on the 35 acres of land...
A Bridlington businessman has lost his high court battle to scrap a tree preservation order on the 35 acres of land surrounding his leisure complex in the town. And as a result he has been left facing a legal bill of in the region of£12,000.

James Robinson presented his own case all the way through his high court battle, masterminding an early victory along the way last September when he won leave to challenge the order.

Now though he has failed on the full hearing of the case and has been ordered to contribute towards the legal costs of East Riding of Yorkshire Council and the secretary of state for environment transport and the regions.

Mr Robinson, who owns the leisure complex at Marton Hall, Marton, Sewerby, Bridlington, challenged the making of the tree preservation order, which protects some 10,000 trees in the woods surrounding the hall's 35-acre grounds.

He claimed that the order caused problems for his plans to build an access road from the leisure complex to Flanborough Road in order to use part of his site for a touring caravan business.

Mr Robinson, who bought the Grade II listed building when it was derelict but has turned it into a complex including a function room, restaurant, bistro and swimming pool, claimed that the council had relied on an out-of-date Ordnance Survey map in making the order.

He also alleged that the council had only made the order to strengthen its position at a public inquiry into its refusal of planning permission for the touring caravan scheme. The inquiry took place last May, but as yet no decision has been made.

At last September's hearing, Mr Robinson fended off moves by the council to have his legal challenge to the tree preservation order thrown out. Mr justice Forbes, who gave him the all clear to fight on, said: 'He regards himself as a responsible owner of the land. He feels he can be trusted to look after them himself.'

He said that Mr Robinson had evidence to support his allegation that the council's motive in imposing the order was to bolster its position at the planning inquiry, and, although describing it as an 'unusual allegation', he said he could not see how he could 'just brush it aside'.

Now though Mr justice Sullivan has rejected Mr Robinson's challenge, finding that the Council was not wrong to rely on an outdated map.

He said: 'The regulations do not require that a tree preservation order should incorporate an up-to-date Ordnance Survey plan. No doubt it is desirable, but what the regulations require is that the map shall identify the position of the trees.'

'In an ideal world the council would have the resources and the time to survey its area to decide where it may be expedient to make tree preservation orders regardless of whether or not there were any proposals for development.'

He also rejected claims that the council had only acted in its own interests, saying: 'In reality there are only 24 hours in the planning officer's day and if there is a threat to trees by reason of a development proposal very often that will be the occasion when the making of a tree preservation order will be considered.

'This should not be equated with the council seeking to bolster its position at a planning inquiry.'

He ordered Mr Robinson to make a£2,000 contribution to the secretary of state's costs, as well as a contribution to the council's costs. That could leave Mr Robinson facing a£12,000 bill on top of the time and money he has spent on his fight.

STRAND NEWS SERVICE

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