Fresh fears over St Albans gipsy site

PUBLISHED: 08:57 03 June 2009 | UPDATED: 14:07 06 May 2010

A CONTROVERSIAL decision to grant temporary one-year permission for three gipsy caravans to remain on Green Belt land behind a private house in St Albans has come back to haunt planners. Following the February decision to allow the caravans to continue to

A CONTROVERSIAL decision to grant temporary one-year permission for three gipsy caravans to remain on Green Belt land behind a private house in St Albans has come back to haunt planners.

Following the February decision to allow the caravans to continue to be kept behind his house in Ardens Rise, House Lane, for a year Michael Connors has now applied to make the situation more permanent.

He is also asking for retrospective permission to be allowed to stable horses there.

In February, the district council's planning portfolio holder Cllr Chris Brazier complained that the decision weakened his case against the Government Office for the East of England - Go East's -- plans to impose a further 28 travellers' pitches in the district even though St Albans already provides 40 per cent of pitches in Herts.

He spoke against the application which planning officers had recommended for approval, partly because it would provide an "unmet need" for additional pitches in the district.

He was concerned that the officers' report referred to meeting the requirement for 28 additional pitches proposed by Go East even though the recommendation had not been ratified and still had to go out to public consultation.

Mr Connors' agent has now put in a new application for the removal of the condition limiting planning permission to one year claiming that three households in separate caravans have stood on the site for more than 10 years and because it looks as though a decision on gipsy sites in the East of England will not now be reached - due to a delay - until January 2012 instead of November 2010.

Although horses are already kept on the site, it is unauthorised use of the land and he is also applying for retrospective planning permission in respect of stabling.

But Cllr Janet Churchard has called in the application which will now be considered by St Albans District Council's plans (central) committee on Monday.

The temporary permission allows the present use to continue only until February 2010 unless the latest application is approved.

Cllr Brazier said he would be making representations advising against acceptance.

He said the previous decision had weakened his position by already conceding additional gipsy pitches.

Sandridge Parish Council has objected to the plan on the grounds that it is Green Belt land, that the district already has more than its fair share of pitches and that the "caravans" are in fact mobile homes.

But district council planning officers are again recommending approval on the grounds that the site will meet an unmet need prior to the resolution of the East of England Plan.


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