Colney Heath traveller tries to get High Court to reopen caravan site case

PUBLISHED: 13:16 23 March 2009 | UPDATED: 14:01 06 May 2010

WHAT should have been a rubber-stamping exercise in the High Court on Friday resulted in a traveller trying to get his case retried. In September last year Secretary of State Hazel Blears quashed a planning inquiry decision to allow Peter Robb and his fam

WHAT should have been a rubber-stamping exercise in the High Court on Friday resulted in a traveller trying to get his case retried.

In September last year Secretary of State Hazel Blears quashed a planning inquiry decision to allow Peter Robb and his family to move back on to land at Nuckies Farm in Colney Heath for a temporary five-year period.

It followed a decision by Colney Heath Parish Council to seek a Judicial Review into the outcome of the inquiry which led to Mr Robb and his family returning to the site which he had occupied illegally since 2000

The inspector, Clive Hughes, ruled that the health needs of the Robb family and the absence of any gipsy pitches in the area outweighed the damage of the Green Belt and advice in planning guidelines that caravans should not be put on the land because of the flood risk.

But the Secretary of State subsequently ruled that the inspector had erred in failing to provide an adequately-reasoned decision.

Friday's hearing was intended to endorse the Secretary of State's decision but what was expected to be a short hearing went on all day as counsel for Mr Robb attempted to reopen the case.

He referred to incidents over the past eight years including the crushing of caravans Mr Robb had illegally parked on Colney Heath Common and the personal involvement of parish and district councillor Chris Brazier in the action to remove Mr Robb from Nuckies Farm which is in the Green Belt and on a flood plain.

Cllr Brazier said after the hearing that Mr Robb's counsel had accused the parish council of victimising him and preventing him living on a static site near to local schools.

He added: "The whole day was given over to him trying to have a public inquiry held in front of a High Court judge.

"The judge said, 'I am not hear to listen to this but to listen to the merits for quashing a five-year temporary permission'."

During Mr Robb's eight-year battle with the parish council and St Albans District Council which has cost council tax payers tens of thousands of pounds, he has been served with numerous enforcement notices to get off the land and served a 28-day jail sentence for defying a High Court injunction ordering him and his family to move off the site.

The judge is expected to make public his ruling this week.


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