Travellers in Appeal court bid over land

The Fairfield Road travellers site and (below) Keri Williams, enquiry chairman, at the public enquiry at St George's Church Hall in St Annes in February last year.
The Fairfield Road travellers site and (below) Keri Williams, enquiry chairman, at the public enquiry at St George's Church Hall in St Annes in February last year.
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Travellers who have lived on land in a Fylde village have taken their legal fight to stay to London’s Court of Appeal - claiming their children’s human rights were “violated”.

In the challenge, spearheaded by one of their number, Elizabeth Collins, they are appealing against a High Court ruling last September in which Judge Pelling QC backed a Government planning inspector’s decision to refuse them permission to stay on land south of Fairfield Road, Hardhorn, near Poulton.

Keri Williams, enquiry chairman, at the public enquiry at St George's Church Hall in St Annes in February last year.

Keri Williams, enquiry chairman, at the public enquiry at St George's Church Hall in St Annes in February last year.

In the ruling under challenge, Judge Pelling said Collins was one of 78 travellers - predominantly Irish travellers, of which 39 were children - who have lived on the 2.4 hectare site since November 2009, with distant views of Blackpool Tower.

However, while the land has planning permission for keeping horses on it it does not have permission for residential accommodation.

Fylde District Council rejected the travellers’ application for retrospective planning permission and issued an enforcement notice demanding that they move off the site.

Collins appealed that decision, but the planning inspector rejected her case in August 2011 following a public inquiry.

She took her case to the High Court, arguing that the refusal of permission and the enforcement notice were both unlawful.

However, the judge upheld the inspector’s decision and ordered Collins to pay almost £8,000 in legal costs.

Now she is asking three of the country’s leading judges to overturn that decision and give her a fresh chance at securing planning permission for the group to remain on the land.

She hopes the Court will order the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government to have the matter reconsidered.

She argues that, if upheld, the decision will force her and her extended family on to the roadside, which will have a major impact on the children living on the site.

She claims the inspector failed to comply with his duty to treat the best interests of those children as a primary consideration, and failed to conduct a sufficient inquiry into the impact that refusal of planning permission would have on them.

As a result, she argues that the children’s human rights were “violated”.

Lawyers for the Government maintain that the inspector did treat the children’s best interests as a primary consideration and undertook a lawful exercise in determining the proportionality of refusing to grant a temporary planning permission. They argue that the rights of the children were not breached.

The Court is expected to give its decision in writing at a later date.

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