Cash raised to fight decision on traveller site
PUBLISHED: 11:42 07 February 2008 | UPDATED: 12:57 06 May 2010
MORE than 100 people turned out for a meeting to support an appeal against a controversial decision to let a traveller family live on a flood plain in the Green Belt. In a shock finding, a Government planning inspector allowed Peter Robb and his extended
MORE than 100 people turned out for a meeting to support an appeal against a controversial decision to let a traveller family live on a flood plain in the Green Belt.
In a shock finding, a Government planning inspector allowed Peter Robb and his extended family to put caravans on the land at Nuckies Farm in Coursers Road, Colney Heath, for a five-year period.
This was despite a seven-year battle by St Albans District Council to move the Robb family from the site they had occupied without planning permission.
At the appeal the inspector accepted that the occupation of the site would damage the Green Belt and that the land was on the River Colne flood plain and was at risk of flooding.
But Mr Robb claimed the flood risk was unlikely and he said there was a need for additional traveller pitches in the area.
The long battle has cost council tax payers about £60,000 to fight with the council serving a number of enforcement notices for eviction on Mr Robb who was sent to prison for 28-days when he defied a High Court injunction.
Colney Heath Parish Council also had to evict Peter Robb and a friend from the village common where they moved from Nuckies Farm and the caravans were eventually impounded and later destroyed.
Parish councillors and local residents turned out in force at last Wednesday's meeting in Colney Heath to drum up support for the appeal and more than £1,000 was raised towards the fighting fund.
Parish councillor Chris Brazier, who is also the district council's planning portfolio holder, was very pleased with the high attendance but he is disappointed that the district council are not supporting the action.
He said that the parish council would be filing its reasons for appeal to the High Court and this could lead to a Judicial Review if the judge thought there was a case to be heard.
Peter Robb also attended the meeting and made a speech to the local residents about how he was in need of a home for his family.
But Chris Brazier, who chaired the meeting, said: "We are not appealing against Mr Robb, we are appealing against his right to build on a flood plain."
The LibDem prospective Parliamentary candidate for St Albans, Sandy Walkington, was also at the meeting.
He said this week: "There's no wonder the residents are outraged when the Secretary of State drives the horse and coaches through Green Belt policy and the way they turned out in such numbers is evidence of their support for action to be taken."
St Albans MP Anne Main has already referred the planning inspector's decision to Hazel Blears, the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government.