Owners ordered to replant 100 trees illegally felled at unlawful Derbyshire development

Watch more of our videos on Shots! 
and live on Freeview channel 276
Visit Shots! now
A holiday lodge developer has been given a year to remove dozens of unlawful concrete bases, stone boulder walls and a road, reprofile an entire hillside and replant 100 trees it illegally felled

Government inspector John Felgate has largely ruled against Anthony Barney, owner of Haytop Country Park – on the hillside above Whatstandwell – in a crucial appeal hearing over trees he must see replanted following extensive unlawful holiday lodge development.

The owners had extensively reprofiled the hillside above Whatstandwell into tiered steps in order to build holiday lodge platforms, which it also built and installed, along with an access road.

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

All of this must be removed, following enforcement action and a landmark inquiry victory for Amber Valley Borough Council in 2021, but the issues around the site continue to stretch on, with each element being appealed by the owners.

Haytop Country Park in Whatstandwell, Derbyshire.Haytop Country Park in Whatstandwell, Derbyshire.
Haytop Country Park in Whatstandwell, Derbyshire.

The appeal hearing in August, 2023, had heard how the owners wanted 58 out of the 100 trees it was ordered to replant to be moved to other locations so that it did not mean it had to remove the unlawful holiday lodge developments.

However, Mr Felgate has ruled that just 12 replanted trees will have their locations reassigned and 13 will be changed to a different, shorter species to avoid obstructing overhead power lines.

A number of the trees are to be replanted in different areas due to the damage caused to the ground from the unlawful development, which has made the ground too dense to take a new plant.

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

Mr Felgate makes clear that while many of the replanted trees are in locations either on or very close to current holiday lodge bases or the road, the unlawful developments have been ordered to be removed so the replanted trees should be planted as planned. This also includes planting trees on land earmarked for future development by the owners.

The Haytop Country Park in 2017, after the trees were cut down. The felled trees are marked with yellow dots.The Haytop Country Park in 2017, after the trees were cut down. The felled trees are marked with yellow dots.
The Haytop Country Park in 2017, after the trees were cut down. The felled trees are marked with yellow dots.

He writes: “In all of these cases (where trees would affect development), the bases, roads, walls and structures that would be affected were built unlawfully, being constructed without the necessary planning permission, and on land that had been re-contoured and levelled into terraces also without permission.

“The enforcement notice (ordering their removal) now in force requires all of these structures to be removed, and the land to be restored to its former levels and condition.

“When the enforcement notice is complied with, the structures that currently present an obstacle will then all be gone. In that case, the conflict with the existing built development will be overcome, and there will be nothing to hinder replanting in the positions specified in the tree replacement notice.

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

“In the present case, none of these planned developments, which would be affected by the planting positions identified, are authorised by the existing permissions. There is no certainty that the necessary permission would be forthcoming.”

The Haytop Country Park site near Whatstandwell and Crich.The Haytop Country Park site near Whatstandwell and Crich.
The Haytop Country Park site near Whatstandwell and Crich.

Mr Felgate has given the owners 12 months to replant the 100 trees, which also involves the removal of unlawful development to take place first, to clear the way for the planting spots.

Natalie Osei, on behalf of the borough council, had told the hearing there were currently nine holiday lodges occupied as permanent homes on the site, cemented by records of council tax payments.

These lodges were built without permission and, as it stands, have been ordered to be removed by a Government inspector.

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

Richard Harwoood, Haytop’s legal representative, had repeatedly reiterated that “most of the moves are to allow other plots (for holiday lodges) to be licensed”. He had said: “It is not in anyone’s interest to tear these bases up just for these bases to be put back down again.”

Quentin Hannant, a Whatstandwell and Alderwasley Community Action Group (WACAG) campaigner who has lived in Whatstandwell for nine years, told the hearing: “The suggestion that trees cannot be planted near or under concrete or hardstandings is laughable when the appellant was directed to remove concrete bases, roadways, gabion retaining walls and to re-profile the land to its original form.”

The appeal hinged on the illegal felling of 121 trees between March 17-23, 2017, a few months after Countrywide Park Homes bought the Haytop Country Park site in late 2016 – with the site run for 64 years by the George family.

A landmark public inquiry in January and February 2021 saw a second Government inspector, Claire Sherratt, order the owners to demolish large concrete holiday lodge bases, boulder walls, a road, CCTV towers and to reprofile the hillside on the site – all of which was carried out without permission.

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

Since the illegal felling in 2017 there have been an ever-increasing number of different planning arguments and challenges over the site, including injunctions, enforcement notices, a public inquiry, appeals and tribunals – all costly and time-consuming for all involved.

Since the 2021 ruling, the owners have not altered the site, campaigners claim, and the council says the developers should comply with the inquiry inspector’s orders first instead of seeking to effectively wriggle through the issues in “reverse”.

Related topics: