Final bid to clear land at Colney Heath farm

A LEGAL attempt to get flood-plain land at Nuckies Farm in Colney Heath completely cleared has now been mounted by two councils.

Grandfather Peter Robb, who lives there with his extended family, has been a thorn in the side of Colney Heath parish council since he moved to Nuckies Farm.

But the council scored a victory in the High Court last year when Deputy High Court Judge Tim Corner rescinded the planning permission given to Mr Robb in January 2008 when he appealed against refusal by St Albans council.

Colney Heath parish councillor and St Albans planning portfolio holder, Cllr Chris Brazier, said that Mr Robb had now exhausted his legitimate grounds for refusal and all that remained was to clear the land which increased the risk of Colney Heath and London Colney residents being exposed to further flooding.

Cllr Brazier said he hoped the application now before the Planning Inspectorate would swiftly produce the desired result and the stable block which Mr Robb had turned into a home and the mobile home parked there could be removed from the land.

He said: “The inspector may back the Judge’s decision, which points out the risk of flooding to residents in the vicinity, in which case we can send the bulldozers onto the land if Mr Robb still refuses to go.”

Adding that the Robbs had been offered council accommodation in 2002 which they had refused, he said the inspector might alternatively decide that the family’s human rights had to be protected.

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He said: “The judge’s decision had nothing to do with Mr Robb’s status as a traveller and everything to do with the fact that he has illegally built on flood-plain land in the Green Belt.”

The previous decision of the inspector in 2008 considered that the need Mr Robb’s family had for a place to live, coupled with the fact that there were unlikely to be any alternative sites available for gipsies or travellers within four or five years, justified the granting of temporary permission for five years.

When Colney Heath parish council challenged that decision in the High Court, they won the ruling quashing the planning permission.

The parish council argued that the temporary permission was given against the wishes of both themselves and St Albans District Council.

It also claimed that there had been a long history of unlawful development on the site by gipsies and travellers and that it had actively opposed any such development on the site for years.

Deputy Judge Corner ruled that the inspector had failed adequately to deal with the important question of the impact the development of Nuckies Farm might have on the surrounding flood plain.