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Coombes Woods update

Coombes Woods: Date set to return to High Court

04 January 2019
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Latest news  - 15 January 2019


A date has now been set for Wokingham Borough Court to return to the High Court in London to request to continue the injunction (detailed below) and for it to advise the court of the breach of the injunction. The hearing will be on January 28.


Background:


Land at The Coombes, Coombes Lane, Barkham has been marketed in plots at auction and on a property website last year. The advertising has implied the land has the potential for development.


It is understood that at least eight plots have been sold and Wokingham Borough Council has been contacted by several of the landowners and members of public to enquire about potential development, forestry work and a Public Rights of Way issue.


One of the plots was bought by Candice and Dean Jules who began carrying out work that Wokingham Borough Council believes to be unauthorised on the site in November 2018. The Council requested them to stop and obtained a High Court Injunction at the Queen’s Bench Division of the Royal Courts of Justice in London on 14 December that stipulated they must not:


  • Bring onto the site any building materials
  • Store any building materials on the site
  • Carry out any building works on the site
  • Bring any mobile home or caravan onto the site
  • Carry out any engineering operation (including but not limited to the creation of a track) on the site
  • Carry out any works to the trees protected by TPO 371/1988 without the written permission of the Council or the Forestry commission

The landowners are proposing to challenge this injunction but it remains in force. It should be noted that the court order remains in force and is punishable by imprisonment or fine if breached.


Legal position of land:


The land concerned is Protected Woodland (TPO 371/1988) and Local Wildlife Site and as such there is no potential for building upon it. The land can only be lawfully used for forestry uses. The TPO has recently been extended to cover all trees at the site.


In order to carry out works to trees on the land, owners must either apply to the Council or to the Forestry Commission. In both cases, the consent would only be for agreed works to trees – not development.


Current position: Land owned by Dean and Candice Jules


Council planning and tree officers visited the site on numerous occasions most recently on 24 December (Christmas Eve) to ensure the injunction had not been breached. A further visit was made on 27 and 28 December, when it was observed that a timber cabin had been constructed.


 Current position: Public Rights of Way issue


Another of the plot owners, has been in contact with the Council over a Public Right of Way. The owner believes the original definitive line of the path should be approximately three metres to the east of the current position of the path and is seeking to re-establish this route and then install close boarded fence on his side so that he can exercise his dog. A Wokingham Borough Council officer visited the site on 19 December and advised that he would review the maps and evidence. The owner was advised to carry out no work on the path until the issue has been resolved. 

 

Please note that Wokingham Borough Council elected ward members for the area (Cllr Gary Cowan and Cllr John Kaiser) are working closely and proactively with Council planning and tree officers and the parish council on this issue. Further updates will be provided as appropriate.

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