Mixed fortunes for St Albans gipsy sites’ expansion proposals

Ardens Rise on House Lane

Ardens Rise on House Lane - Credit: Archant

An expansion push for three travellers’ sites to house additional caravans on St Albans Green Belt has been partially successful, despite widespread local opposition.

Ned Connors has been given the go-ahead for a change of use at Lye Lane in Bricket Wood.

But John Connors’ application to extend his rubbish-strewn travellers’ site at Chiswell Green Lane, near Butterfly World, and Michael Connors’ bid to expand at Ardens Rise, House Lane in St Albans, have been rejected by St Albans district council.

Officers told the council’s planning referrals committee, which considered all three schemes last Monday (5), that the entire Bricket Wood site was now paved and a large area “has been covered with rubbish and building materials.

“There are lighting columns dotted throughout the site and other paraphernalia associated with the use of the land as a travellers’ site.”

Among objections to Ned Connors’ scheme was that the site was previously green fields and that the mixed use, to include construction of a riding academy and relocation of stables, would result in a detrimental impact upon neighbouring properties.

St Stephen parish council opposed it on the grounds that as Lye Lane was a narrow lane used by local walkers, cyclists and horse riders, “the coming and going” of caravans would have an adverse affect.

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Yet Ned secured permission for mixed use including the stationing of eight caravans - static and touring.

The scheme was approved as planning officers said the academy and stables were appropriate development in the Green Belt.

But they described John Connors’ site in Chiswell Green Lane, 120 metres from tourist attraction Butterfly World, as “covered with building debris, trade waste, rubbish and mini diggers associated with the applicant’s personal business.

“Aerial photographs illustrate this piece of land was previously covered with trees.”

A report from Herts Ecology said a site survey was no longer necessary because the clearance had “removed woody vegetation and any potential wildlife including possibly protected species”.

The proposal for four mobile homes, five touring caravans, one permanent residential and two amenity buildings was refused because it was deemed “inappropriate”.

Following scores of objections to Michael Connors’ scheme to permanently increase the number of pitches in Jersey Farm to accommodate his extended family, the committee decided such an expansion would also be inappropriate.

Officers had asked for clarification over who would live there as Michael’s daughter’s name was listed as a resident at both the Jersey Farm and Chiswell Green Lane travellers’ sites, but further information was not supplied.

The committee’s refusal is bound to be hailed locally, as among the long list of objections to the scheme was that it would leave Jersey Farm with a “blot on the landscape” and would decrease the value of properties in the area if approved.

Michael won an appeal for the stationing of three caravans in 2011 but that was for a limited period of five years.