Wokingham Borough Council wins High Court tree judgement0
A high court judge has dismissed a challenge against Wokingham Borough Council for making a Tree Preservation Order (TPO) to protect trees on land at Manor Farm at Lower Sandhurst Road in Finchampstead.
The judgment was heard at the High Court in Bristol, on November 22, in response to a challenge made by landowner Slavey Slavchev of EU Plants Ltd, following a decision by the council’s planning committee on July 25 to make TPO 1414/2012 permanent.
The order was originally served by the council on February 3 to protect an area of trees on agricultural land at Manor Farm, following tree work activity and a proposal to construct an access track on the site.
The High Court challenge from EU Plants Ltd was based on the following issues:
The grounds on which the TPO was made
A proposed access track on the site (and its impact on adjacent trees)
‘Expediency’ in the making of the TPO
Alleged bias against the landowner
The issue of alleged bias against Mr Slavchev referred to Cllr Simon Weeks, chair of the planning committee at Wokingham Borough Council, which confirmed the TPO when the officers’ report was received at the planning meeting on July 25. This public meeting was where the decision was made by the committee to confirm and make the TPO permanent.
The case was presented before The Right Honourable Mr Justice Beatson on November 8 at a one-day hearing in the High Court of Justice in Bristol. Representations were made by counsel acting on behalf of both EU Plants Ltd and Wokingham Borough Council.
The judgement on the case was made by Mr Justice Beatson on November 22. He dismissed on all grounds the claimant’s application for the TPO to be overturned. In his summing up of the case Mr Justice Beaton also rejected the claimant’s allegation of bias by Cllr Weeks against the landowner.