Media release - issued 20 Nov 2017

Company withdraws request for judicial review

The company that owns Potters International Hotel in Aldershot has withdrawn an application for a judicial review asking for a Tree Preservation Order (TPO) to be set aside.

The company had started its application at The Royal Courts of Justice in The Strand, London, on Thursday 16 November. However, following extensive questioning by the judge, a barrister acting for Bob Potter Leisure Ltd applied to discontinue its application for a judicial review to have the TPO at Potters International Hotel set aside.

The TPO, protecting 26 trees was created in 1993, at the time when the former officers' club was being converted into the hotel.

The application for judicial review had been submitted by the company, which has its registered offices at the Lakeside Country Club, Wharf Road, Frimley Green, a few days before a hearing at Basingstoke Magistrates' Court on 31 July 2017, where it was found guilty of felling several trees subject to the TPO. The company was fined a total of £42,000 and ordered to pay the council's costs of more than £4,000. The company had denied the charge, claiming that the TPO had not been served correctly and that it was not aware of it.

In Court One at the Royal Courts of Justice, Mr Justice Holgate, having questioned the barrister representing Bob Potter Leisure Ltd, adjourned the case briefly to allow the barrister to review his client's position. After taking instructions from Bob Potter Leisure Ltd, the barrister requested the judge's permission to discontinue the case. Justice Holgate ordered that the claim be discontinued. 

Following submissions from barristers representing the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government, who had been included in the proceedings as an interested party and Rushmoor Borough Council, Justice Holgate ordered Bob Potter Leisure Limited to pay the Secretary of State's cost of £15,000 and the costs of Rushmoor Borough Council, which came to £6,417. 

Rushmoor Borough Council's Cabinet member for Business, Safety and Regulation, Councillor Ken Muschamp, said: "We are delighted that this case was withdrawn and that our legal expenses and those of the Secretary of State will be fully repaid.

"This case involved a lot of hard work by our officers and we would not have brought the original matter to court if we didn't feel we had a rock-solid legal case.

"Although we will have our legal costs paid, we feel that the judicial review has been a complete waste of everybody's time. We would not hesitate to do exactly the same again if anyone else removes or ruins a tree covered by a TPO.

"Our advice has always been that if someone wants to carry out any work on a tree covered by a TPO, or any tree within a conservation area, they should first check with the council's planning department before doing anything."

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