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Why Is Former Bond Girl Fiona Fullerton In Trouble With Her Neighbours?

Fiona Fullerton, formerly Pola Ivanova in the 1985 film A View To A Kill, has become embroiled in a minor dispute with her neighbours that has made national news – probably due to her fame.

Probably better-known these days for her appearance on Strictly Come Dancing, it was her spell as a 'Bond girl' which made for juicy headlines such as "License to fell" when her neighbours objected to her removal of two trees on her property in Cheltenham.

Her main career now is in property development, to the extent that she has written a series of in-depth books on property development and interior design.

What Did She Do Wrong?

As far as we can tell from the limited information available to us, not much (if anything).

Ms. Fullerton and her husband were visited by a tree preservation officer shortly after buying the property, who told them that the trees were unsafe. The implication is that they were actively encouraged to fell the trees.

The trees themselves were not particularly rare, being cypress trees, but cypress trees can live to extremely old ages – which may have been part of what drove objections to their removal.

The council made it clear that they did not believe the trees were worth keeping, but tree officer Lindsey Mulraine added that they hoped "the applicant continues with intentions to replace them with Holm oaks."

In terms of reasons for keeping the trees, it's obviously a little sad whenever a tree is cut down, and the trees did frame the property nicely. Unfortunately, reasons like this rarely constitute a significant factor in planning disputes.

Why The Dispute?

Although the change was made public knowledge, and there were no legal arguments made against their removal, the change still attracted controversy.

What this really highlights is that, no matter how inoffensive or necessary a change appears to you, you always need to be prepared for challenges from your neighbours. People living on the same street as you often (though not in this case) have a say in any changes you want to make which will affect them, and should therefore be constantly informed of the changes and your reasons for making them.

If they still don't like the idea of the changes, it's unfortunate but you may have to take the case to court.

Sometimes you just can't control the reasons people oppose new developments. If you're new to an area, changing something long-established, or are perceived as not belonging to the particular group of people who live in that area, it's simply inevitable that you'll face some opposition, and you may need to be prepared for that.

What Next?

Since the trees have already been cut down, it seems extremely unlikely that the people opposing their removal will have much success.

However, having raised awareness of their concerns and priorities, the garden could see more sustainable trees planted in their place – hopefully resulting in a win-win situation.

Assuming that the trees really did pose a danger, this looks like a fair result. What do you think though? Get in touch at @planning_lawyer on Twitter.