Travellers set to battle on over caravan site plan

Travellers site at Fairfield rd, Hardhorn.
Travellers site at Fairfield rd, Hardhorn.
  • Travellers are fighting plans to evict them from a field where they have lived for almost five years
  • The group has applied to Fylde Council for retrospective planning permission to turn the site into a caravan park
  • The plans include reducing the current layout of pitches from 15 to six
  • The project has been met with a wave of criticism, with 44 neighbours providing more than 70 reasons why the application should be thrown out
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A group of travellers who are fighting plans to evict them from a field where they have lived for almost five years have launched yet another fresh bid to stay on the land.

The group has applied to Fylde Council for retrospective planning permission to turn the site off Fairfield Road near Hardhorn, Poulton, into a caravan park.

The plans include reducing the current layout of pitches from 15 to six, but the project has been met with a wave of criticism, with 44 neighbours providing more than 70 reasons why the application should be thrown out.

Since their arrival the travellers have angered residents and community leaders, who have repeatedly complained of problems with anti-social behaviour over the past five years.

Staining Coun John Singleton said: “The need for the travelling community to settle must be in line with planning rules and the findings of the planning committee.

“The applicants have not followed any guidelines or complied with any council or court orders. The land is open countryside and I object to the proposed change of use from open countryside.”

Singleton and Greenhalgh Coun Maxine Chew added: “I am extremely unhappy about this application as it has already been refused as not appropriate development at this site.

“Matters have not fundamentally changed so, unless the application is substantially different to previous applications, I would not like to see it approved.”

Refused

Since arriving in November 2009, the travellers have failed in a long-running series of bids to make their stay legal.

A retrospective planning application for the site was refused by Fylde Council and upheld by a planning inspector in August 2011 after a public inquiry.

The travellers also appealed to the High Court in 2012, the Court of Appeal in 2013 and the Supreme Court in January 2014.

But judges ruled in favour of the council each time.

A spokesman for Staining Parish Council added: “The parish council is absolutely adamant this application should be refused.

“The applicants, their planners and solicitors have made a complete mockery of Fylde Council planning department and will continue to do so as this most recent application is submitted while a previous decision is still under judicial review.”

Fylde Council planning officer Michael Atherton said the homes would contribute to the borough’s housing requirement but recommended the bid be refused.

He added: “However, these material considerations in favour of the development are not considered to outweigh the identified harm to landscape character, visual amenity and highway safety.”

The planning meeting is at Fylde Town Hall on April 1 from 10am.