Gypsies fight council to stay on greenbelt land

Campaign to stay put: Appellant Michael Linfoot's wife, Patty Linfoot, at the Romany gypsy site on Hut Lane, Heath Charnock
Campaign to stay put: Appellant Michael Linfoot's wife, Patty Linfoot, at the Romany gypsy site on Hut Lane, Heath Charnock
0
Have your say

The battle between travellers living in Chorley and the council’s planning department is now under way.

The battle between travellers living in Chorley and the council’s planning department is now under way.

The families, who described themselves as Romany Gypsies and are living on green belt land at Hut Lane in Heath Charnock, have appealed the council’s decision to refuse retrospective plans for caravans, storage units and provision for stables.

A three-day public inquiry started on Tuesday at the Town Hall, where representatives for the Romany gypsies, the Linfoot family, local residents and Chorley Council outlined their case before a planning inspector.

On the first day of the inquiry, inspector Mark Dakeyne said he’d received 135 letters of objections from residents over the development, and 109 in support of it.

He will consider whether the development is inappropriate for greenbelt land and its openness; the affect it has on the living conditions of local residents; the site’s sustainability; the need for gypsy and traveller sites nationally; and human rights.

Speaking on behalf of appellant Michael Linfoot, Mark Willers said: “It’s very important to take into account the national, regional and local need for traveller and gypsy sites.

“I think the very fact that this site exists in Chorley shows that there is an urgent need locally.

“We would also argue that the site is sustainable, and we question whether its inappropriateness is mitigated by landscaping.

“You have to take all of these considerations into account to decide if they outweigh the harm caused to the land.”

A similar appeal for the site was turned down in May 2010, and changes have been made to the planning application in this case.

But Ian Ponter, representing the residents opposing the development, said: “Residents believe the development is seriously damaging to the greenbelt land, and have described is as being uncompromising and unsympathetic.

“Absent any significant change since the last appeal decision, the residents believe this latest appeal should also be dismissed.”

Peter Willacy, the council’s principal enforcement officer, said: “The unauthorised development has significantly harmed the attributes of the greenbelt ... and results in an unacceptable loss of openness.”

He added: “This, in combination with the lack of planning applications and enforcement cases in Chorley, does not indicate a level of need.”