Travellers in appeal dismissal

PHOTO: NEIL CROSS'Travellers site on Hut Lane, Heath Charnock, Chorley

PHOTO: NEIL CROSS'Travellers site on Hut Lane, Heath Charnock, Chorley

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Travellers in Chorley have been told to leave their land after an appeal against their campsite was dismissed.

An inquiry into six caravans on land at Hut Lane in Heath Charnock for two Romany Gypsy families has decided the development, on green belt land, would cause ‘harm to the character and appearance of the area’.

The decision, by the Planning Inspectorate, comes two years after a similar application for a larger development was refused.

Dismissing the appeal following a five-day public inquiry, inspector Mark Dakeyne said that the harm to the green belt was not outweighed by any other factors, including the Linfoot family’s wish to stay on the land for the sake of their children’s education.

He said: “The number of caravans has been reduced by 50 per cent from that considered at the inquiry in 2010...however the scheme still has a significant adverse effect on green belt openness.

“White caravans are a stark feature in the landscape...the mix of fencing on the boundaries and within the site and the brick gate pillars and the vehicles add to the alien character of the development.”

The dispute dates back to June 2009 when travellers set up home on the land, which had permission for horses and stabling.

A retrospective application for two mobile homes and 14 caravans was rejected by Chorley Council and the planning inspector also refused to grant permission in 2010.

The latest planning application for two static caravans and four touring caravans for residential use, the storage of two touring caravans, plus a utility block and other associated development was refused by Chorley Council last year and appealed by Michael Linfoot.

Mr Dakeyne said there remained a real need to traveller sites and a regional and county level but there was no identified need in Chorley.

The council is currently seeking injunctions to remove the travellers from the site.

Coun Alistair Bradley, leader of Chorley Council, said: “It’s really good news the inspector has upheld our decision because this type of development is not welcome in our precious green belt.

“Hopefully this will now signal an end to the appeals from the families occupying the site.

“We understand the frustrations of residents and will be doing all we can to get them moved on as soon as possible.”

Appellant Michael Linfoot said: “I just find it unbelievable that in this day and age they can quite easily disregard the children and their education. That is our main concern at the moment.”