“Broken” planning system condemned in light of controversial St Albans travellers site expansion

An aerial view of the Traveller site. Picture: Google Maps

An aerial view of the Traveller site. Picture: Google Maps - Credit: Archant

An opponent to the expansion of a controversial travellers site has condemned the “broken” planning system.

A planning application has been submitted to St Albans district council (SADC) for an amenity bungalow to replace a stable building at a permanent traveller site in Bricket Wood’s Green Belt.

The 11 caravans site in Lye Lane dates back to 2008 when a day room for owner Edward Connors’ disabled son was built. In 2015 planning permission was received for eight caravans and a manège.

But a neighbour, who requested anonymity, insisted Edward neither owned horses nor intended to use the stables.

The current application asks to demolish the stables and build a bungalow 4.1m high with 105sqm of floorspace, and increase from 67sqm of stable space.

It says: “Most static caravans only contain limited kitchen, dining and bathroom facilities. Generally, they make no allowance for the need to accommodate freezers, washing machines, and dryers. Gypsies and travellers also tend to have a cultural aversion to using toilets located within their caravans.”

The woman blames SADC for allowing what she considers to be rule flouting: “They are playing the system. I am not angry at them as people, I am more against the council because if people have a chance to do something they will probably do it. I think the system needs changing, it’s the system that is wrong.

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“My issue is we have a beautiful Green Belt land and they turn the place into an absolute tip. The council shouldn’t be using private sites for their provision of Travellers sites so it ticks their quota box. It has got to the stage where enough is enough.

“Some robust action needs to happen to send a message that they can’t do whatever they want to do. Enforcement should mean enforcement and if it goes to appeal and they state the building must be demolished it should be.”

St Stephen’s Parish Council has also objected to the application: “The building is already constructed and is very visual from both Lye Lane and the M25 carriageways as it appears over the top of the Highways Agency fencing. This is not a modest building, but a brick construction of large bungalow proportions.”

It is “out of keeping in the Green Belt”, “unattractive, unnecessary and most unwelcome”.

The parish council claims the bungalow has already been built: “The unlawful expansion of this site does not warrant another unlawful building and there are no special circumstances.”

Head of planning for SADC, Tracy Harvey, said: “All planning applications are dealt with by the council in accordance with the law and in a nondiscriminatory way.”