Permission for gipsy caravans on St Albans Green Belt site

PUBLISHED: 15:55 25 February 2009 | UPDATED: 13:57 06 May 2010

A DECISION to grant temporary one-year permission for three gipsy caravans to remain on land behind a private house has come under fire. St Albans plans (central) committee narrowly agreed on Monday to give Michael Connors temporary permission to continue

A DECISION to grant temporary one-year permission for three gipsy caravans to remain on land behind a private house has come under fire.

St Albans plans (central) committee narrowly agreed on Monday to give Michael Connors temporary permission to continue stationing three gipsy caravans at Ardens Rise in House Lane, St Albans, a site in the Green Belt.

But the council's planning portfolio holder, Cllr Chris Brazier, fears that the decision has weakened his case against the Government Office for the East of England - Go East's - plans to impose a further 28 travellers' pitches in the district, even though St Albans already provides 40 per cent of pitches in Herts.

At the meeting, Cllr Brazier spoke against the application which planning officers had recommended for approval, partly because it would meet an "unmet need" for additional pitches in the district.

He was concerned that the officers' report referred to meeting the requirement for 28 additional pitches proposed by Go East even though the recommendation has not been ratified and still has to go out to public consultation.

He said: "I told the committee that if you allow this, you are weakening my position at the regional panel because it suggests we accept 28 more pitches."

His concern was echoed by local councillor Geoff Churchard who had asked for the application to be called in to committee because he felt no more pitches should be provided while the dispute with Go East was still to be resolved.

A number of local residents were at the planning committee having lodged their concerns with the committee. They ranged from its Green Belt location to the unfair proportion of gipsy sites in the district.

Cllr Brazier said the committee had decided not to give it temporary permission for three years despite the officers' recommendation. Instead they had settled for one year by which time he should know how many pitches would be required in the district.

But he added: "This has weakened my position by conceding additional gipsy pitches already so I wasn't happy.

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