Travellers win a stay-of-execution

Leaving: Ayshea Boswell and Patty Linfoot

Leaving: Ayshea Boswell and Patty Linfoot

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A group of travellers has been given a stay-of-execution before they’re forced to leave a greenbelt site in Chorley.

The Linfoot and Boswell families had been set to leave the camp on Hut Lane on February 13.

However due a number of legal complexities the travellers have won an extension until June 24.

The latest twist comes after Chorley Council’s decision to refuse retrospective planning permission for two mobile homes and 14 caravans was upheld by a planning inspector and a senior judge.

One of the travellers, Michael Linfoot, said: “We are waiting to hear from the council and our lawyers at the moment but we have heard nothing about this whatsoever.

“The June deadline just gives us more time to find somewhere else for us to go. We are looking for somewhere available and affordable in the borough. We have been here for 40 years - it is our home.

“I have written over 200 letters in the last 12 months but no one has got anywhere for us to go.”

Coun Peter Goldsworthy, leader of Chorley Council, explained the situation: “We understand the frustrations of residents in the area but the legal process is very complex and by taking this decision we hope to prevent any more delays and further costs to local taxpayers.

“Last year the planning inspector ruled that the families would have to vacate the site by February 13 and return the land to its original condition by May 13.

“The families applied for permission to appeal to the High Court against the enforcement notices we issued but this was rejected by a senior judge who backed our decision.

“However, because Mr Boswell had also appealed against the council’s decision to refuse planning permission, an appeal that was later withdrawn, it has extended the time his family can stay on the site because the period of notice for the families to leave the site had been suspended during this time.”

A spokesman for local residents declined to comment.

The dispute dates back to June 2009 when travellers set up home on their land, which was due to be used 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 planning permission.

Two enforcement notices were issued to stop any further change of use to the land and to prevent any further development at the site until the matter was resolved.

The travellers have and until September 21 to carry out work to return the land to its original state.