Traveller family launches fresh bid for permanent site in Colney Heath

St Albans City & District Council

St Albans City & District Council - Credit: Archant

A traveller and his family are making a fresh bid to be allowed to stay permanently on the village site they occupy.

Peter Robb and his children and grandchildren live on Nuckies Farm in Colney Heath where a temporary four-year planning permisson is due to expire next year.

But Mr Robb’s bid for the site in Coursers Road to become a permanent gipsy caravan site has come under fire from a Colney Heath councillor who is concerned that the village has far more than its share of travellers’ sites.

Cllr Chris Brazier has also long been concerned that Nuckies Farm is on a floodplain and believes that had a bearing on why homes in the village were flooded during the recent heavy rainfall.

In 2011 the Planning Inspectorate gave Mr Robb permission to stay on Nuckies Farm in the Green Belt for four years even though the High Court earlier took a decision that he should leave the site.

Agents for Mr Robb maintain that very special circumstances exist to justify permanent permission for the family to stay. They include the minimal impact on the countryside and the way in which the health and education needs of the six children would be affected should the family have to leave the site.

The agents also say that Mr and Mrs Robb are in poor health as is one of their daughters with another acting as carer for her mother.

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In addition, they raise the issue of “the substantial unmet need for gipsy sites” in the St Albans district and the absence of alternative sites.

But Cllr Brazier, who has asked planning officers to “call in” the application for councillors to consider, maintains that St Albans has over-provided for traveller pitches and should not be pressured into taking more.

He points out that with 52 pitches provided – the majority in Colney Heath and Redbourn but none in Harpenden – St Albans provides more than any other part of the Herts.

He said that Colney Heath did not have the infrastructure, school places,health facilities or financial resources to support more sites.

Cllr Brazier went on: “It is our democratic right to oppose outside forces and pressure on our Green Belt. It must be our choice to shape our district. We need housing for our key workers, older people that want to downsize, not extra traveller pitches.”

He believes that by having mobile homes and caravans on Nuckies Farm had a knock-on effect earlier this year when houses further downstream of the River Colne were flooded.