An autumnal walk in Ramus Wood. Signs of clearance and smart new fencing onto the bottom of Old Hill. Still a lot of work to be done and some coppicing needed to let in more light. What a pity so many of the saplings planted earlier this year have perished. But well done to the volunteers/local residents who are nurturing this little piece of precious green belt land and protecting it for future generations.
Mayday photos in Ramus Wood. Friends of Ramus Wood have cleared a large amount of rubbish and planted new saplings. It's looking so much better - particularly at the top of Old Hill. (Photos: Margot Rohan ©May 2016)
Local residents of Beechwood Avenue, Barry Dixey and Stan Hicks, purchased Ramus Woods from the executors of the previous owner, John Spooner. They have formed 'Friends of Ramus Woodland' to indicate their intention to protect the site from any further attempts to develop on it. They are offering local residents in Beechwood Avenue, whose properties back onto the woodland, the opportunity to purchase strips of the woodland adjacent to their properties. The letter sent to the residents explains their proposal more fully - you can download it here.
* The 'men' were Barry Dixey and Stan Hicks who were marking out the
20 July 2015
Men* were spotted in Ramus Woods today marking out strips of land. It is rumoured that the owners are planning to sell off these strips to local residents, whose gardens back onto the woods - or to anyone else who will buy them. However, the entire area is covered by tree protection orders (TPOs), so the land cannot be developed and trees cannot be removed without planning permission. The fact that it is also the habitat of several protected species would make it very difficult to gain any planning permission. If attempts are made to fence off any parts, Bromley Council can be approached and asked to apply an Article 4 Direction, which removes permitted development rights (PDR) and means that development of any kind must have planning permission.
The woods are in green belt land and also have public footpaths running through them, so these would be additional problems for anyone thinking of development there.
Margot Rohan - Orpington Community
Ramus Wood, between Old Hill and Shire Lane in Green Street Green, presents a sad picture of mismanaged and unkempt woodland. There are obvious signs of vandalism - torn branches, chopped branches and cleared patches, with ditches filled with logs and signs of old fires, with burnt remains. However, it is difficult to tell if this is deliberate on the part of the land owners or from late night revellers, as there are also discarded drink bottles and other rubbish.
What a pity this otherwise pleasant area for a walk is not better kept, as the ground is ivy-covered and the paths are often overhung with brambles and branches. However, despite this, it is still a habitat for various species and birds nesting in the many trees. Well-managed and properly coppiced, to allow light through the canopy of thick forest, more varieties of flora would become established and this could be a wonderful asset for local residents and visitors to enjoy.
Unfortunately this land is in private hands and the owners only seem interested in wanting to develop it for profit (see below). Thus it is left to rot, probably in the hope that eventually Bromley Council will decide it is better to allow residential development rather than leave it in such a deteriorated state.
Margot Rohan, Orpington Community
(Below are some photos taken on a walk through Ramus Wood this afternoon.)
The decision to REFUSE this application was finally made on 1 April under delegated authority. The Decision Notice can be viewed here.
Response received stating: "This application is likely to be refused at the delegated meeting this Wednesday (26th March) on grounds relating to inappropriate residential development in the Green Belt, and loss of woodland."
23 March 2014
The case officer, Gill Lambert, advised on 10 February that the decision is likely to be taken under delegated authority 'shortly' - to REFUSE! However, despite sending another email on 26 February requesting an update, there has been no response. Another email was sent on 22 March. No new application has been validated, so one wonders what is going on 'behind the scenes', particularly since the original application was received in December 2012 but not validated until October 2013.....
The planning case officer has arranged a site visit this week. Following this, the officer's report will make a recommendation for decision. Under Bromley's planning procedures, the decision could be taken either by the Chief Planner, under delegated authority, or by a Plans Sub-Committee. Hopefully the case officer will be able to advise next week. Watch this space!
The government is drawing up plans to allow homeowners to divert historic rights of way. Currently, a path becomes a right of way after 20 years of 'unhindered public use'. It is understandable that residents would wish to rescind rights for all and sundry to tramp through their gardens because an ancient path once existed there. However, it is of concern if this new legislation could be used by owners of green belt land, with well-used public footpaths, to prevent people enjoying the countryside in order for the land to be built on in the future by unscrupulous developers, looking for a quick profit. There is plenty of urban land which could be developed, but this often involves higher costs due to needing clearance, such as brownfield sites with toxic waste. Investors prefer to purchase more easily developed land as it turns round more profit more quickly.
If we want to ensure our glorious English countryside is preserved for our descendants to enjoy the freedom and fresh air, whilst protecting our diverse species in their natural habitats, everyone needs to be vigilant and submit relevant planning objections on any applications which attempt to turn green belt land into residential development.
See Times article of 2 January (you can read the first few paragraphs even if you are not a paid subscriber to The Times)
(Click on images below to see the original properties and rebuilding of the Lodge)
23 December 2013
The applicant was busy in October and November, as a number of new documents were added to the planning application on 20 November, showing the proposed layout and elevations of the planned building. The Arboricultural Report (dated 17 October 2013) identifies the removal of 21 individual plus 3 groups of trees. All trees on the site are protected by a Tree Preservation Order (TPO).
The building just outside the site area, at the north of the site, is Beechwood Lodge.
A bomb fell on Ramus Wood in 1940-41 - could that have demolished the old Manor House? (see left)
The photos and newspaper clipping below have kindly been provided by David Daws, a local resident who knows the area well.
30 November 2013
The application deadline was recently extended as not all residents nearby were informed of the application. The local ward councillor, Richard Scoates, is keeping an eye on its progress as he also objects to the development. If the officer's report recommends approval, he will call it to a planning committee for decision, hopefully refusal. Read all the background below and watch this space!
17 November 2013
Above is an aerial view of Ramus Wood, in the green belt, next to Beechwood Estate, off Shire Lane, Farnborough. It is an area of special character and there is a blanket tree protection order (TPO) on the woodland. It is also home to a variety of wildlife, some of which are protected, such as roe deer, badgers, spotted woodpeckers, dormice and bumble bees.
Over the years since the Beechwood Estate was constructed on an area where the original Beechwood Manor House was situated, a number of planning applications have been submitted for developments on Ramus Wood.
- erection of a building to be used as a nursing home (1987, 1990 and 1991)
- use of the land as a pet cemetery and erection of detached building for ground keeper's store and office
with formation of car park and creation of new vehicular access (1996 and 2001 (without building!))
- erection of a detached, two storey, four bedroom house with triple garage (1997)
All of these applications were refused on the grounds of:
- inappropriate development on the green belt
- being an area of special landscaped character
- loss of trees.
In addition to these applications, vehicular access was applied for in 1998 (refused but granted on appeal), 2004 (renewal granted) and 2009 (withdrawn). The latest application (2011) was permitted for 'Formation
The 2012 application - for decision by latest 23 December - is for erection of a detached, two storey FIVE bedroom house with triple garage! Since the previous one, with only four bedrooms, was refused, one would hope that this one will also be. However, in the current climate of housing need, special grounds for developing on the green belt might be argued, although it is difficult to imagine what they could be.
The local badger groups - East Kent and West Kent - have been alerted and Beechwood Residents' Association has submitted a strong objection. However, it is important to ensure the planning department at Bromley Council are made aware of all objection to any development of local green belt. So, if you do not want to see more diminution of our beautiful countryside and the wonderful creatures that inhabit it, please submit your objection by logging into the planning application website - click here and enter 12/03892/FULL1. All the planning documents can be viewed by clicking on the 'Documents' tab, although currently there are no plans of the layout of the proposed buildings online.