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April 2015: Widespread political and public support for campaign to “Clear out that Mess!!”

piled-debris-march-2015
HCWG’s campaign to clear out the large mounds of logs and debris from the former woodland at Cumberland Avenue has received strong support across the political spectrum. Jackie Baillie MSP (Labour) has told HCWG that she “is happy to support the campaign and will write to Angus Gilmour (the Council’s Head of Planning)”. Mr Gilmour’s department has also received strong representations from Councillor James Robb (SNP), while Councillor Gary Mulvaney (Conservative) has advised HCWG that he “agrees with the desire to get things tidied up” and that he also would be taking up the matter with council officials. Councillor Aileen Morton (Liberal Democrat) and Councillor Maurice Corry (Conservative) have added their voices to the call for action, writing to Mr Gilmour and sending strong messages of support to HCWG. As Councillor Morton says: “This is a substantial green space in what is a fairly densely built-up area; residents deserve better than its current condition.”

Over the last three weeks, HCWG members have also been calling house to house and gathering signatures from friends and family on a petition requesting the Council to take action under Section 179 of the Town and Country Planning (Scotland) Act 1997 to require the debris and logs to be removed from Cumberland Avenue. The petition with a total of 308 signatures was handed over personally to Councillor David Kinniburgh, Chair of the Council’s Planning, Protective Services and Licensing (PPSL) Committee on 14 April.

In all, 190 of the 308 signatures (62%) came from the immediate area around Cumberland Avenue, with the remainder mostly drawn from elsewhere in Helensburgh. The 190 signatures gathered around Cumberland Avenue represent 60% of the properties in the area. At a further 32% of properties, no-one was at home when HCWG called, leaving only 8% of properties (18 people in total) where residents refused to sign the petition.

With such strong political and public support for action, we now await the meeting of the Council’s PPSL Committee on 22 April, at which the matter is to be decided.

March 2015: Time to “Clear out that Mess!”

piled debris in March 2015Almost four years after woodland at Cumberland Avenue, Helensburgh, was unlawfully felled by its owners in May and June 2011, HCWG says it is high time that the mounds of debris and logs still remaining on the site were cleared out. That’s why we’ve initiated a new campaign to persuade Argyll and Bute Council to take action under Section 179 of the Town and Country Planning (Scotland) Act 1997 to require the removal of leftover debris and logs.

There are four reasons why this needs to be done as early as possible

  1. What’s left behind is essentially waste material from an industrial felling operation that has no place in a designated Open Space Protection Area within a residential area. The sooner it’s removed, the sooner natural regeneration can take place.
  2. The debris and logs pose a real danger, especially to children. If there’s ever a serious accident, then the landowners, and by implication the Council if it decides not to act, will bear a very heavy responsibility.
  3. The Council must finish the job it began last year, when it took direct action to replant 28 trees, and served enforcement notices that secured the removal of the building materials unlawfully stored on site and the lowering of the perimeter fence. The full benefits of these earlier actions will be evident only when the mounds of debris and logs are removed.
  4. There is a very strong determination among local residents to see the land at Cumberland Avenue cleared and restored and this has been backed by public visits by the MP, MSP and local councillors from across the political spectrum. Taking action now will demonstrate the Council’s commitment to its local communities.

HCWG has written to Councillor David Kinniburgh, Chair of Argyll & Bute’s Planning, Protective Services and Licensing Committee, making the formal request for action to be taken. You can read that letter here, along with the leaflet we are distributing in the neighbourhood around Cumberland Avenue. We will then be collecting signatures on a petition to be presented to the Councillor Kinniburgh and the Leader of the Council before the April meeting of the PPSL.

If you can help delivering leaflets or collecting signatures on the petition, please get in touch with Gordon Greig at gordon_greig@talk21.com

For more information, see:
For Argyll: 4 years after developers’ unlawful felling, Helensburgh Community Woodland Group calls time on the debris
Lochside Press: Clean-up called for at Cumberland Avenue

Owners lodge appeal against replanting order

Cumberland Avenue, Helensburgh - ripping saplings

On 13 March 2013, Margery Osborne and Thomas Paterson, the owners of former woodland at Cumberland Avenue, appealed to the Scottish Government against the Tree Replacement Notice issued by Argyll and Bute Council. Surprisingly, the Scottish Government Reporter, who issued his decision on 4 June 2013, reduced the number of trees required to be replanted from 109 to 28, but still required the work to be completed by 15 November 2013.

At the same time, the Reporter dismissed the landowners claim for expenses against Argyll and Bute Council.
You can download details of the appeal decisions on the Scottish Government website here

February 2013

woodland felledOn 14 February 2013, Argyll and Bute Council ordered Margery Osborne and Thomas Paterson, the owners of former woodland at Cumberland Avenue, to replant a total of 109 individual trees which the Council decided were removed, uprooted, or destroyed in May and June 2011 in contravention of the Tree Preservation Order at the site.

HCWG welcomed the council’s decisive action following its 18 month investigation and has called on Mrs Osborne and Mr Paterson to take their responsibilities seriously and put right the eyesore they created in 2011.

You can download a copy of the Tree Replacement Notice here.  This Notice sets out the precise arboricultural requirements to be complied with, along with the relevant legislation under which it has been issued.  It also notified the owners of their rights to appeal against the notice.

What was one of the most substantial replanting notice ever issued in Scotland generated extensive press coverage, with stories at:

For Argyll ‘Council follows through – Tree replacement order served on Osborne Interiors

Helensburgh Advertiser ‘Developer ordered to replant 100 trees

Helensburgh TV

The Herald ‘Activists win woodland fight with landowner

Daily Record ‘Helensburgh landowners ordered to replant fallen trees

Lochside Press ‘Landowner told to replant 109 trees

Campaign News

Castle Woods

HCWG is currently engaged in two campaigns to protect and enhance the distinctive wooded environment of Helensburgh. These are at:

Castle Woods: Here we are seeking to save the historic Castle Woods from destruction by a proposed housing estate of between 48 and 72 dwellings and ensure instead that it is turned into a well-managed community woodland.
Cumberland Avenue: Here, we are working hard to secure the restoration of land at Cumberland Avenue, where woods were felled in 2011.

These campaigns have been widely reported in the local press and on the internet. You can access the latest news and past stories below, including that directly from HCWG.

We would encourage you to respond to recent news by ‘leaving a reply’ at the relevant website or sending a letter to our local paper, the Helensburgh Advertiser at:

editorial@helensburghadvertiser.co.uk

December 2012

With still no announcement from Argyll and Bute Council on the action it intended to take against the unlawful felling at Cumberland Avenue, HCWG members collected a petition signed by over 300 local residents, calling on the Council to use all necessary powers at its disposal to ensure that the land was reinstated as an amenity area with suitable replanting for the benefit of local people and the local environment, without any further delay. On 4 December, the petition was personally presented to Councillor Roddy McCuish, then Leader of Argyll and Bute Council, by HCWG Convenor, David Adams

November 2012

There was an enthusiastic response from local people to HCWG’s draft management plan for Castle Woods, when it was presented to a public meeting held at Lomond School Sports Hall on 16 November 2012. For more information, see the reports at:

Strong response to Castle Woods plan (1.5MB PDF)

Public support for HCWG’s management plan for Castle Woods

Public support for plan to protect woodland

TV report on public meeting

On 8 November 2012, HCWG launched our own draft management plan to secure the long-term future of Castle Woods as a sustainable community woodland. For more information, see the reports at:

Hope takes root for community woods

Community Woodland Group takes initiative: public meeting on Helensburgh’s Castle Woods

New bid to protect woodland launched

TV report draft management plan

 

October 2012

Jutland CourtThe future of the derelict Jutland Court, adjoining Castle Woods generated considerable local controversy during October 2012.

HCWG’s position was clearly stated by its convenor, David Adams, who emphasised that the Group welcomed any plans to redevelop Jutland Court.  He added “Our view is that a redevelopment would take away the need to undertake development at Castle Woods as it will provide Osborne Interiors with enough work some time whilst meeting the need for affordable housing.” For more information, see the following reports:

Derelict Jutland Court refurbishment?

Plans to refurbish ex-MOD flat blocks (2.4MB PDF)

Planners under scrutiny on developers Osbornes’ manoeuvres in Helensburgh

So what is happening at Helensburgh’s Jutland Court?

August to October 2012

cumberland-avenuePolitical support for HCWG’s campaign to tackle the wasteland left by the 2011 felling at Cumberland Avenue intensified with visits from Alan Reid MP, Jackie Baillie MSP and from local SNP, Liberal Democrat and Conservative councillors. For more information, see the reports at:

Helensburgh Community Woodland Group gets a clean sweep of the politicals in Cumberland Avenue campaign

TV report on visit by Alan Reid MP

LibDem politicians visit eyesore felled site at Helensburgh’s Cumberland Avenue

Baillie tells Helensburgh developer to clean up Cumberland Avenue

TV report on visit of Jackie Baillie MSP

August 2012

In, HCWG launched its campaign to Save Castle Woods, eventually generating over 300 letters of objection to Osborne Interiors’ planning application to develop a 72-unit housing estate on the site of the woods. The company subsequently put the land up for sale but discussions with a major residential developer fell through. We wrote offering to Osborne Interiors offering to negotiate the purchase of the land for use as a community woodland. For more information, see the reports at:

Helensburgh’s Castle Woods saga: developer backs off but with a decoy on Cumberland Avenue

Castle Woods: Osborne Interiors home free in Helensburgh Advertiser

TV report on progress of  Castle Woods Campaign

Campaign launched to save Helensburgh’s Castle Woods

Helensburgh development sees council planners go for open source decision taking

TV report on launch of Castle Woods Campaign