Concerns raised as travellers work on land in Colney Heath
- Credit: Archant
Colney Heath residents have raised concerns about a third potential traveller’s site in the village as work to level the ground and move in caravans on land nearby to an existing site begun over the bank holiday weekend.
Coursers Road resident and former St Albans District councillor Mike Ketley has raised concerns about the work, that is seemingly being carried out without relevant planning permission.
Mike said: “The council has started taking action, but these things are never easy. These people know how it works.
“The key thing is everyone else is law abiding and these people have come along with no planning permission or highways approval, and we are stuck with the cost and time spent to get them out.
“I am close to retirement and we were planning on downsizing. Our house has been on the market for a few weeks and in that respect I don’t know what we are going to do.”
The land owners have now submitted a planning application to St Albans District Council seeking permission to change the use of the land to a residential traveller’s site.
In November last year, the traveller community won a 19-year battle to set up permanent residence on Nuckies Farm – which is also in Coursers Road – after gaining planning permission on the Green Belt land on appeal.
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Colney Heath ward councillor for St Albans District Council Chris Brazier said: “I’m concerned we’re going to end up with another Nuckies Farm situation.
“The residents are concerned that it will become a permanent site, and we already have three sites in Colney Heath within a mile of one another.
“I would rather the sites are provided across the county and across the country. At the moment they are just levelling the land making it stable for people to live there.
“I’m really concerned that they will be able to submit a retrospective planning application and that will negate anything the council can do until then application is approved or denied.”
Colney Heath Parish Council also owns land adjacent to the site – Furze Field and part of The Warren.
Chairman Councillor Peter Cook said: “We will be consistent in our dealings with all adjoining landowners and will act in a calm and respectful manner to all parties.”
A spokeswoman added: “The Parish Council must ensure it does not act ‘ultra vires’ i.e. by using our role as landowner to influence any comment we might make as a consultee in the planning process.
“An emergency council meeting may be needed once we are aware of the timetable for determining the planning application.”
A SADC spokesman said: “We were advised of activity and works off Coursers Road, Colney Heath over the bank holiday weekend.
“Our Planning Enforcement team is currently investigating what has taken place on the site to establish if there has been a breach of planning controls.”
To view the planning application, go to planningapplications.stalbans.gov.uk/planning/search and search 5/2020/1124.