Travellers allowed to permanently set up home in Colney Heath
- Credit: Picture: DANNY LOO
A 19-year battle by travellers to set up a permanent caravan site on Green Belt land has finally been won on appeal.
A group of travellers has fought for nearly two decades to retain Nuckies Farm in Coursers Road, Colney Heath as a fixed site for traveller communities.
On Friday a planning inspector granted permission for the change of use of land, which includes the station of six caravans, of which no more than three are static caravans or mobile homes, with associated hardstanding.
St Albans district council initially objected to the proposals on the grounds that the site is located within the metropolitan Green Belt and within a flood zone, but withdrew its objection in relation to flood risk following additional information from the Environment Agency.
An extended family has lived on the site for a number of years, with two of the children attending London Colney Primary School, and also includes pre-school children and a baby to be born in the next few months.
The planning inspector said: "It is unclear where this family would go if the appeal was dismissed, and it seems at best it would be this or another unauthorised site.
"It appears to me that the best interests of the children on the site would be served by continuity of education for those at the school, and a settled and secure home life for all the children."
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The inspector also pointed to the chronic health conditions suffered by the appellant and his wife, saying that they needed a settled address to receive continuity of health care.
Colney Heath Cllr Chris Brazier, has campaigned against the site since 2001: "We now have three traveller sites within two miles of one another with over 60 caravans, and it puts pressure on our infrastructure. We have no shops to support them and we have no buses so it's going to put more traffic on the roads and pressure on our local school.
"Now we have over 40 per cent of the traveller sites within the district, and I think that's a terrible statement to make bearing in mind we have a large district and a large county."