Central Bedfordshire Council - Council to challenge Mile Tree Gypsy and Traveller appeal decision

Central Bedfordshire Press Release
For Immediate Release

PR 1675: 30 August 2013

Council to challenge Mile Tree Gypsy and Traveller appeal decision

Central Bedfordshire Council has expressed its disappointment and frustration at a recent appeal decision by the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government to grant permission for a new Gypsy and Traveller site in Heath and Reach which has been the subject of extensive enforcement action by the Council.

Communities Secretary Eric Pickles has agreed with the Planning Inspectorate that temporary permission for a Gypsy and Traveller site in the Green Belt at Mile Tree Road should be granted, after the Council refused planning permission.

Cllr Nigel Young, Executive Member for Sustainable Communities (Strategic Planning and Economic Development) said: "We’re really very disappointed with the decision to grant temporary planning permission, despite substantial local opposition and the impact on the green belt."

"The Council has previously taken enforcement action against the site, when hard standing was laid without planning permission. An appeal by the applicant against this enforcement action was lost and a High Court injunction secured to prevent further breaches. When the landowner then failed to comply with the enforcement notice, which required removal of the hard standing and restoration of the site, the council had to step in and do the works."

Cllr Young went on: "The Secretary of State's acceptance of the Planning Inspector’s recommendation opens the door to further unlawful occupation both in the greenbelt and on other land in Central Bedfordshire, as well as undermining our emerging, adopted Gypsy and Traveller Local Plan. We will be taking the matter to High Court."

"What is most astonishing is that in this case we have used wide enforcement powers, precisely as encouraged by Government, to halt unlawful development of this type, and at expense to the local authority."

"Even though in his decision letter Mr Pickles agreed with the Inspector that the proposal is inappropriate development in the green belt and "would result in significant harm to the green belt in terms of its impact on openness and moderate harm because of encroachment" and that permanent planning permission should not be granted, he nevertheless agreed that temporary permission should still been granted."

The decision gives approval for six family pitches with utility/day room buildings and hard standing for a temporary period expiring on 31 January 2016.