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Gypsies, travellers & travelling showpeople

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Updated 11 May 2007, this page includes various recent decisions on appeals against refusal of planning consent. Summarises of appeal decisions arising from refusal of planning consent are available at www.Planning Reource.co,uk/dcs, with a copy of the decision letter also available for a fee.

 'SoS' = Secretary of State. 'DETR' is now ‘DCLG’ = Dept for Communities and Local Government.

Caravans (other) are now on a separate page.


Gypsies get temporary permission in Beds GB.  Retrospective permission for 5 years was given due to personal circumstances for 12 caravans housing 4 families.  3 previous appeals for gypsy caravans had been refused and the caravans introduced an incongruous urbanised appearance.  They were out of scale to the nearby 20-dwelling hamlet.  However there was a shortage of such sites in the district and refusal would have forced the families to return to being nomads.  Two occupants had serious health problems and two children attended the local school.  The 5-year permission was granted to allow the council to identify additional gypsy sites in the District Plan.  The SoS agreed it complied with Circular 01/2006.  It was immaterial whether or not this site would be chosen as a permanent site in the Plan.  It was the right balance between the appellants needs and human rights and the need to protect the countryside and local residents amenity. DCS OT100-045-369.  1.12.06

Gypsies proved an unmet need for sites in Cheshire GB.  Provision of public sites had decreased and there were rarely any vacancies.  The extended family had looked for a suitable site for 10 years and the council had been unable to find somewhere they could relocate to.  Approval would enable the group to continue their extended family tradition which needed a large site.  The mutual support and access to education and health care would be seriously affected.  Personal permission was granted because the council had not assessed need or begun to identify suitable sites for gypsies.  DCS 100042608.  30.6.06

Gypsy family given permanent permission in Kent GB.  The Inspector decided they needed a permanent permission.  Most of their income was from travelling to horse fairs during the summer, and 80% of the site was used for keeping breeding horses. This activity would be difficult on large publicly controlled sites, justifying permanent personal permission rather than a further temporary permission.  The use was acceptable in the GB and the strong involvement in horse-breeding was a very special circumstance.   DCS 100042680.  7.7.06

Meopham, Kent GB gypsy site to be reconsidered. The High Court ordered Gravesham Council to reconsider its decision not to register this application for this site.  An appeal to retain a mobile home and touring caravan was dismissed in 2004.  The occupants then applied for permission to remain on the land, but the council refused to accept it being less than 2 years after the appeal decision.  The family argued their circumstances had changed with 2 children attending local schools. They also cited circular 01/2006 giving revised guidance on gypsy site applications.  The Judge agreed 01/2006 was important in that it stressed the importance of identifying the need for additional sites.  Although the council might ultimately refuse the application, the family should be given  the opportunity to argue VSC.  Jeeves v Gravesham BC.  12.5.06 ref CO/10260/2005.

Gypsies lose 4 appeals in Essex GB. The DPM ruled the caravans would harm the openness and amenity.  Applying Wrexham CBC v National Assembly of Wales 2003, only one appellant enjoyed gypsy status, but it was appropriate to have regard to the changes proposed in the ODPM’s consultation paper on planning for gypsies and travellers sites.  That paper reflected the fact that many gypsies and travellers had ceased travelling permanently or temporarily because of health etc, but still wanted to live in caravans.   These would retain gypsy status.  However the appeal site was urban in appearance and encroached significantly into the countryside, extending urban sprawl and reducing openness.  The structures were alien in appearance and incapable of being screened. Although dismissal would make it more difficult for families to reach schools and health care facilities, this did not outweigh the harm.  DCS 100040757.  17.2.06

 

Gypsies allowed at West Mids GB site.  Permission was granted on appeal in 1986 for 4 caravans limiting use to gypsies.  The DPM decided that the unmet need for additional sites was not a very special circumstance , but the previous permission and  degree of visual containment constituted a VSC allowing 6 caravans on the site.  DCS 100040185.  20.1.06

Gypsy site approved in S Yorks GB.  The 1.3ha site was occupied by 10 families with fences dividing up the site.  Utility blocks had been built.  The Inspector decided there was a substantial and growing mismatch between demand and available sites.  The interference of the families’ lives, schooling, and human rights if they had to move outweighed the harm to the GB.  They had searched for alternative sites without success.  Approval was given subject to being personal to the appellant and existing families and dependents, and a maximum of 10 plots.  DCS 100041074  7.4.06

Gypsy pitch refused at Essex GB cemetery.  The DPM refused a 36-pitch site, manager’s dwelling and chapel.  A 1992 permission allowed the site to be used for a wildflower meadow cemetery.  The appellant claimed that visitors need a chapel as somewhere to go on arrival,  a resident manager and the gypsy site to generate income.  The Inspector was not convinced of the need for the dwelling and chapel.  There was a failure to prove that other gypsy sites were not available in the area.  VSC had not been shown.  DCS 100041610.  14.4.06

Gypsy site allowed in Cheshire GB.  The DPM accepted the Inspectors advice and upheld this appeal.  A clear and undisputed need for additional sites, the lack of an up-to-date qualitative assessment and absence of viable alternative sites supported the appeal but were insufficient VSC.  However one of the gypsies was tetraplegic requiring more than one caravan for him, his wife and equipment needed for day-to-day living.  Support was also needed from two other families whose children attended local schools.  These were sufficient VSC. DCS 100041789.  5.5.06

Lack of alternative sites but gypsy site refused in Kent GB.  He PDM ruled that the shortage of suitable sites did not outweigh the harm to the GB.  It was in the Kent Downs and an AONB.  The family had 7 caravans and 2 mobile homes on the site, and had searched for an alternative site without success.  The council had not completed a quantitative assessment of the need for gypsy sites and the lack of alternative sites weighed in favour of approval but did not outweigh the harm to the GB.  None of the children had special educational needs.  DCS 100039536.  2.12.05

Beds GB gypsy site refusal by DPM overturned by Court.  The Inspector recommended approval of the site due to the lack of alternative sites and the school head teacher had given very clear evidence that the special educational needs of some of the children would be adversely affected if they had to move.  The ODPM refused permission, but the High Court over-ruled the ODPM on the grounds that insufficient reasons had been given for not accepting the Inspector’s recommendation.   Hughes v 1st SoS 15.11.05  Ref CO/2887/2005.  (Planning mag 2.12.05)

 

Bristol GB land cannot be used by show people.  The DPM agreed with the inspector that reduced openness of the GB outweighed the use for storage of fairground equipment etc.  The appellant failed to explain why an alternative site in a built-up area was unacceptable.  DCS 100038089.  19.8.05

Gypsy status queried.  Not in GB, but a proposal for 4 mobile homes on the edge of the Cambs Fens was rejected because the appellant and intended occupiers did not appear to follow a nomadic way of life.  The appellant was from a Romany Gypsy family and had permanent permission to live on the site.  He wanted his family to move on site.  He had a landscaping business working from the site on a daily basis and his family did not appear to be nomadic.   Another section of the site already had permission for mobile homes.  DCS 100038073.  12.8.05

Gypsies given 2 months to vacate site in Beds GB.  The family had lived there for 5 years and the High Court ruled they had to clear the site within 2 months or face a year in prison for contempt of court.  The family claimed there was insufficient provision for gypsies in the area and they would have to live on unauthorised camps or the roadside, harming the children’s education.  The judge found the family was in prolonged and deliberate breach of an injunction issued in Nov 2004.  Another appeal is being considered but the judge refused to suspend the court action pending resolution of it.  S Beds DC v Price and others.  23.9.05 Ref HQ/0403308. 

Wilts gypsies refused.  A site, subject to two enforcement notices, housed 16 pitches each for a mobile home and a caravan with day room and septic tanks.  The appellant claimed the council had failed to carry out an assessment of need and development plans had inadequate provision for new sites.  They had searched for alternative sites and personal circumstances justified permanent permission.  The Inspector agreed they were gypsies and the site would have some impact on the countryside and amenity of neighbours.  He held the appellants circumstances were not exceptional but recommended permanent permission in view of the need for further sites and the limited impact of the site.  The DPM agreed but noted the council had started an assessment so that might identify preferable sites so he only granted temporary permission.  DCS 100037555.  8.7.05

Gypsy site refused in Surrey GB.  Hard core and rubble was laid down in 2003 at the 3.7ha site.  Despite an interim injunction was made to prevent further caravans etc,  more hardcore was laid and plots fenced off.  Numbers varied but in April 2004 there were 48 caravans, 5 mobile homes and 10 assorted office buildings.  The DPM agreed with the inspector that it was inappropriate in the green belt and it was in an area subject to flooding.  Development plan policies on gypsy site provision were not based on a quantitative assessment of need, but despite some evidence of a modest unmet need for sites, no assessment had been made of other more suitable sites.  The families had no significant health problems but there would be school disruption if moved.  Green belt needs and potential flooding outweighed human rights etc. DCS 100037825.  22.7.05 

Proven need for gypsy sites is no defence.  The Dep Prime Minister rejected an Inspector’s recommendation to approve retention of a gypsy caravan site in the Bedfordshire GB.  There was a proven shortage of sites in the area.  The personal circumstances of the family carried weight but the continuing need for access to medical facilities, shortage of alternative sites, and educational needs of the children did not amount to very special circumstances.  Moving might disrupt their schooling but the local education authority had an obligation to make provision for them even if they could not attend regularly.  The Inspector recommended temporary approval but the DPM ruled that more time should be allowed for compliance with the enforcement notices, extending the period from 3 months to 2 years.  DCS 100037492.  1.7.05

Health and education of gypsies justify development in Glocs. (not GB land)  Despite the adverse effect on the countryside the health and education were sufficiently important to justify approval.  They bought the land in 1993 and kept horses on it, and then moved onto the site in 2004, moving off in early 2005 following an injunction. The appellant claimed there were no alternative sites and the children need permanent education and health facilities. The appellant’s parents also had significant health problems.  Stress was also caused by living in a lay-by.  Approval was given on a temporary basis for 3 years to enable a more permanent location to be found.  DCS 100037216.  10 June 2005.

High Court overrules magistrate & gypsies must leave Wycombe site.  At the magistrates court the gypsies said they had done everything in their power to comply with the enforcement order issued two years earlier by Wycombe DC.  They had found no alternative site or any other land to buy.  Living by the roadside was unsatisfactory and they were prepared to move into a house but the council failed to offer suitable accommodation.  The magistrate agreed and refused to evict them.  In the High Court the judge agreed with the council that this was ‘non-sensical’.  The defence against a failure to comply with the enforcement order was not established by demonstrating that there were no alternative sirtes.  If applied generally, a whole range of activities could make similar claims undermining planning control.  Wycombe DC v Wells.  23 May 2005.  Ref CO/621/2005.  Planning 10 June 2005.

Forestry Commission had no duty to carry out health assessment of gypsies.  A group of travellers had occupied Forestry Commission land at Rendelsham Forest in Suffolk since Easter 2004.  Eviction was scheduled for September but a Court hearing was granted.  The travellers argued that the Forestry Comm’n. had failed to carry out a welfare assessment of the families, breaching their Human Rights.  They also said they were not a nuisance and there were no alternative sites.  The judge ruled the Comm’n had neither resources nor expertise to carry out this assessment, and had contacted the appropriate authorities so it had acted responsibly.  Repossession was lawful.  Kanssen v Forestry Commission.  27 May 2005.  Ref CO/4366/2004.  Planning 10 June 2005.

 

Gypsies win Dorking (Surrey) court case.  In May 2005 the High Court ruled that a gypsy family was entitled to stay on GB land because of very special circumstances – the family had acute housing needs.  Mole Valley DC argued this was perverse but the judge ruled each case had to be judged individually and had to pass a high threshold, but if it did then so be it.  The Inspector ruled the family had acute housing need and there was a lack of alternative sites, so dismissal would result in them living on the road side.  The needs were ‘specific, immediate and acute’ making a very special circumstance.  Mole Valley DC v Ist SoS & others.  26 April 2005.  Ref CO/6681/2004.

Glocs has adequate sites for gypsies.  Although there is a national shortage of gypsy sites, Glocs housed 2/3rsd of all gypsy caravans in the county and 80% on authorised sites.  The ODPM agreed that the personal circumstances of the families were insufficient to outweigh the harm to the GB, with some of the families having no affinity with the area.  The 1.6ha site had extensive hard standings and single-storey buildings on it.    DCS 100036904.  May 2005.

Beds GB gypsies needs not exceptional.  The ODPM upheld an Inspector’s refusal to allow four gypsy families to remain on GB land.  The appellants argued the local plan was flawed because it was not based on up-to-date quantitative assessment of the need for gypsy sites.  The children’s education would be disrupted and there was a pressing need for more sites.  ODPM acknowledged the need for more sites but the evidence on alternative sites was inconclusive.. The threat to education was not exceptional because this frequently occurred even within a settled community.  The harm to the GB was more important than the benefits of a permanent site.  DCS 100036887.  May 2005.

No longer ‘gyspies’ due to abandoned nomadic lifestyle.  The High Court quashed planning permission for 2 caravans and a shower block on Cambs GB.  The appellants had surrendered their gypsy status.  The Inspector had ruled that their former life style, strong family connections with others in the area, and need for health care and support services justified approval.  This was now deemed perverse because the Inspector had taken into account their former life status.    S Cambs DC v 1st SoS.  15.12.04.  Ref CO/1327.2004

Essex GB gypsy site rejected.  The ODPM agreed with the Inspector’s recommendation to uphold various EOs against an unauthorised gypsy camp, being harmful to the openness of the GB.  He accepted this interfered with their Human Rights but it was a proportionate response to the harm caused.  There were no alternative pitches on approved sites in the area but there was no overriding need for the family to stay ion the area.  They were given 12 months to seek alternative accommodation.  DCS 31966214.  Nov 2004.

Family link for Kent GB gypsies. A High Court judge ruled that each gypsy case had to be decided on its own merits and approval did not create a precedent.  He agreed with the DPM and approved 6 caravans at Dartford GB site.  In this case the close relationship between the families and special educational needs of some of the children created a very special circumstance enabling permission for the other families to remain.  Dartford BC v Ist SoS.  26.10.04.  Case CO/2416/2004. 

Chobham gyspies given 3 months to leave GB site.  The High Court ruled that Surrey Heath BC could remove gypsies if they were still there after 3 months.  The council argued that failure to act would send out a clear message to others since the breach was particularly flagrant.  Surrey Heath BC v Rooney & others,.  5 11..04.  Ref 04/TLQ/0834

Kent GB gypsies refused despite lack of authorised sites.  The narrow piece of land of 0.3ha was next to a railway line and contained a mobile home , 4 touring caravans, and a trailer containing a shower toilet and washing machine.  Educational needs and a need for more sites was a consideration but did not overrule the need to preserve the openness of the countryside.  The appellant had not consulted the council before occupying the site and had not assessed any alternative sites.  The DPM overruled the Inspector who was said to have underestimated the impact on openness.  It did interfere with the appellants Human Rights but this had to be balanced against the wider public interest..  DCS 42427170.  Sept 2004.

Kent GB gypsy site approved because of educational needs.  The need for more gypsy sites in Kent and the educational needs of children in the family overrode the considerations of this ‘special landscape area’ which was not in the GB.  The Inspector agreed that the mobile houses undermined the character of the area, the two children’s education, the lack of other sites, and the applicant’s aversion to ‘normal housing’  favoured permission. A limit was put on the number of caravans, and occupancy had to be by gypsies.  DCS 56345634.  Sept  2004.

S Bucks GB Gypsy eviction reversed by Law Lords.  An Inspector found that one of the family suffered from severe asthma, arthritis, diabetes, and high blood pressure and had a fear of living in conventional housing.  These were very special circumstances justifying permission despite the GB location.  The Court of Appeal ruled that the Inspector had failed to take into account the unlawful occupation since 1985 and this was sufficient to quash the decision.  The House of Lords re-instated the Inspector’s decision because the Inspector had given clear and ample reasons for his decision, and did not need to take into account every material consideration.  The period of occupation was irrelevant.  S Bucks DC v SoSTLGR 1 July 2004.

Warwicks GB gypsy site refused.   the Deputy Prime Minister agreed with the Inspector and refused a residential gypsy site as inappropriate and unsustainable.  It would accommodate two families and the appellant claimed a substantial unmet need for gypsy sites nationally and locally and that greater weight should be put of the family’s personal circumstances.  The Inspector found no particular ties to the area, no services to the site and 4k to the nearest school.  The decision would not breach Human Rights.  The site would harm the green belt, have an impact on highway safety, and was remote.  DCS 33946933.  April 2004.

Staffs GB gypsy site approved.  Adjoining an existing gypsy site, the site contained a dilapidated bungalow, detached garage and boarding kennels.  These would be demolished and replaced by space for eight static caravans and car parking.  Very special circumstances were the reduced floor area, a few minutes walk to a school, shops and medical facilities, and removal of the kennels would improve the residential amenity.  The Inspector refused to accept insufficient provision for gypsies as adequate grounds because it would have a far-reaching cumulative impact on green belts.  The DPM agreed subject to a condition limiting the number of caravans.  DCS 31147227.  April 2004.

Essex GB gypsies refused permission and costs awarded against them.  Sun-divided into about 30 plots occupied by different families, the council argued that few occupants proposed to continue the nomadic gypsy life so the majority were not gypsies., and the remainder intended to live there permanently so they could not be classed as gypsies.  The Inspector disagreed, finding insufficient evidence on this point, but did agree with the harm to the openness of the countryside, and unsustainable location away from urban areas with little public transport.  Accepting the need for more gypsy sites, he noted none of the appellants had connections with the area and no evidence that alternative sites  had been examined which would be less harmful to the openness etc. The appellant’s case had been woefully prepared causing an adjournment, and there were clear objections to the use of the site, flooding and sustainability grounds so there was virtually no chance of the appeal succeeding.  Costs were awarded against the appellant.  DCS 37568902.  June 2004.

 

Showman’s winter quarters disallowed – In Bucks GB, the Deputy Prime Minister refused this appeal concluding it would undermine the openness of the GB.  The need to find accommodation was not a compelling reason for approval.  DCS 31737063.  Feb 2004

Gypsy status still applied – In Surrey Met GB the Inspector deciding on two enforcement orders, concluded that many of the residents of the mobile homes no longer enjoyed gypsy status.  In the Court of Appeal case of Wrexham BC v National Assembly of Wales and Berry 2003, it was decided the residents had to adopt a travelling lifestyle or, if not, they had an honest and realistic intention to resume travelling.  In this case none were currently travelling, but certain members did still travel.  Others had travelled but were now permanently resident, needing care by their families.   The Inspector concluded they still had gypsy status.  On planning considerations the Council had twice-yearly counts which showed the need for more gypsy sites but had not provided them.  If he dismissed the appeals, the sick and infirm residents would have to be relocated and there were no alternative sites.  He allowed the appeals but limited occupation to named residents and 20 pitches with no more than two caravans per pitch.  DCS 52772181.  Feb 2004

Gypsy site refused in Bristol GB – The High Court agreed with the Inspector and refused a gypsy site after considering the family’s personal needs.  The Inspector had given full consideration of the health and educational needs of the children, recognised the shortage of gypsy sites, but these did not sufficient very special circumstances to outweigh the inappropriate development in the GB.  Williams v First SoS.  11 March 2004.  Ref CO/6284/2003

Gypsy site refused in Essex GB – The Court of Appeal was not convinced that a gypsy women’s health was sufficient reason to set aside the High Court refusal to allow the site.  It was argued that the Inspector had not taken into account the lack of alternative mobile home sites.  The Inspector was not obliged to consider in exhaustive detail whether the appellant’s rights under the Human Rights Convention would be violated.  The Inspector had weighed her human rights against the harm to the Green Belt.  No very special circumstances were proven.  Bowers v 1st Sec of State 19 Feb 2004.  Case C3/2003/2637 

 

Surrey gypsies Human Rights plea dismissed – Two enforcement orders were upheld requiring removal of caravans in the Surrey Hills GB, an area of outstanding natural beauty.  Although this interfered with their human rights it was not a violation.  In 2001 the European Court of Human Rights ruled that simply because gypsies occupied a site on an unauthorised basis, it did not automatically mean their human rights would be violated by an enforcement order requiring vacation of the site.  The Inspector said that refusal would not place a disproportionate burden on the appellant.  DCS 58834870.  January 2004

West London gypsies also lose appeal – An enforcement order required removal of caravans and mobile homes because of their adverse impact of the openness of the GB and harmed the character and appearance of the area.  The appellant argued that the council’s unitary development plan did not contain any policies on gypsy sites so very little weight should be given to any of its policies.  Government had written to all councils advising the inclusion of either site-specific or criteria-based policies on this topic in development plans.  The Inspector decided these factors were not overriding, nor were the medical and educational needs sufficient to sanction inappropriate development in the GB.  However six months was insufficient notice under Section 8 of the European Convention on Human Rights, so they were given two years to move.  DCS 49717410.  January 2004.  

Gypsy personal circumstances insufficient in Bristol GB -   A Court of Appeal quashed a previous ruling, but the second Inspector also decided the children’s educational needs and family health requirements were insufficient to overrule GB policies.  This interference with their human rights was in the public interest and proportionate to the harm caused.  DCS 42541448  January 2004.

Circus family get OK in West Sussex GB, on personal circumstances grounds – The appellant and his family lived in 3 caravans in a paddock, together with collapsible stabling, horseboxes and trailers.  They did not travel in the same manner as gypsies of other show people.  They performed at circuses, schools, social functions, theatres and theme parks.  The appellant had health problems requiring regular specialist treatment only available in main London hospitals, so he had to live within easy reach of London.  The Inspector decided that suitable alternative sites were unlikely to be found so the appeal was unheld subject to the submission of a planning application for site layout and landscaping.  DCS 30979839  Nov 2003

St Albans gypsies must move – A High Court injunction means that gypsies must move from a GB site.  They had laid hard core to form a track and stationed mobile homes and caravans without permission.  They claimed personal circumstances, children’s education and health needs and lack of alternative sites meant that, if moved, they would have to go to other unauthorised sites.  The judge decided that the injunction was correct in view of serious breaches of planning control.  St Albans City & DC v Daniels and others.  14 Oct 2003.  Ref 02/TLQ/1800

Essex GB gypsies must move – The site was mostly hard standings with 3 double-axle caravans.  The appellant claimed it provided a permanent home and winter base while travelling trading horses and fruit picking, plus a substantial shortfall of authorised sites in the county, and eviction would violate their human rights.   The Inspector ruled that sites must not be approved on an ad hoc basis but must be done through the local plan review system.  The children were under school age and their medical state was not serious enough to justify retaining this site.  The ODPM agreed that the harm to the openness substantially outweighed the lack of alternative sites given the impending plan review.  Protecting the GB was a matter of public importance outweighing human rights of the family.  DCS 54286644.  October 2003.

Building on Essex GB gypsy site rejected – The brick-built building contained a substantial lounge, kitchen, bathroom and two other rooms.  The appellant claimed it met the day-to-day needs of the 4 families living on the site giving access to normal domestic facilities plus a good standard of living commensurate with their traditional lifestyle.  The Inspector ruled that it was not a genuine communal facility and greatly exceeded guidelines for day room provision on gypsy sites.  DCS 39105849.  October 2003.

Herts GB gypsy refused temporary permission – A gypsy argued in the High Court that an Inspector’s refusal failed to have regard to the education and social well-being needs of his family.  The judge disagreed because the family had no real affinity with the area, and their needs could be met in a more appropriate site elsewhere.  Doherty v 1st SoS.  29 July 2003.  Ref CO/1693/2003.  

Sevenoaks gypsies given one week to go – Four travellers had been given 28 days suspended jail term for ‘substantial breaches’ of a previous court order.  The Council went to Court again and the judge gave the travellers one week to remove their caravans and fencing otherwise they would go to jail.  Sevenoaks DC v Murphy and others. June 2003.  ref 03/ATC/0646

Gypsy site in Herts GB refused by DPM -  An Irish traveller lived with his wife and extended family in five caravans on GB land.  He claimed that there were insufficient official sites in the locality and the family required a permanent site for stability and continuous education of their children.  The Council argued that he was no longer a gypsy since he described himself as a landscape gardener, but on balance the DPM ruled that on the balance of probabilities he was still a gypsy under the Caravan Sites & Control of Development Act 1960 (Clarke-Gowan v SoS TLGR & N Wilts DC case).  The DPM ruled that there was no evidence that the claimants needs could not be met on an alternative site in the area.  The appellant bought the appeal site without consulting the Council and had carried out only a limited search for alternative sites.  Recognising this decision interfered with the family’s human rights, the harm to the GB was overriding.  The appellant was given two months to comply.  DCS 44097852.  April 2003.

Gypsy’s human rights override harm to Herts GB – In another case the DPM came to the opposite conclusion.  Five caravans had occupied a Herts GB site for over a year and the Council refused planning permission.  There was an existing permission for one mobile home and one touring caravan.  The appellant argued that the extra caravans would have negligible impact.  The Inspector disagreed that the access to regular work, health and education was a very special circumstance.  The DPM ruled that refusal would violate human rights placing a disproportionate burden on the families. Note – education of 10 children amounted to a very special circumstance even though the families were not related – the appellant had simply invited them onto the land. DCS 34014731  April 2003.  

Remote gypsy site allowed – not in the GB, but of interest.  In Somerset two gypsy caravans, a portable building and shed were allowed despite being 3 or 4 km from two small villages that lacked significant facilities.  The Inspector noted that this was almost beyond what might be a reasonable distance from facilities but the applicants were in poor health.  A clinical psychologist said that if they were forced to move into permanent housing their mental health would deteriorate.  The Inspector noted that since settling on this site their health had inmproved significantly and he granted a personal permission for the applicants to live on the site with their daughter.  DCS 52881845.  April 2003.

S Bucks gypsy site refused by Appeal Court - the woman had lived on the site since 1985 without permission.  The Inspector had given permission for her to remain there since there was no alternative site and she had chronically poor health, making a very special circumstance.  This was confirmed by the High Court but overturned at the Court of Appeal where it was held that the inspector had not addressed the unlawfulness of her occupation of the site in breach of planning control.  Merely to list the hardship was insufficient to deal with a land-use issue.  S Bucks DC v SoSTLR 19 May 2003.  Ref C1/2002/2018

Bristol permanent gypsy site refused - A proposed bungalow to house a gypsy family was rejected as sporadic development harmful to the openness of the GB and highway safety. Adjacent to a church and a large house, the site was occupied by a caravan. The appellants said they had been unable to find suitable housing in established settlements, being either too dear or they would not be able to live amicably with neighbours. The Council and Inspector agreed that the sight lines for the access were 41m against a national standard of 120m. The Inspector said that many, not just gypsies, could not find suitable affordable homes within established settlements so that was not a 'very special circumstance' DCS 37355968. May 2003

Herts GB gypsy site allowed - The Council said that the appellant did not fall within the definition of a guypsy and so special considerations did not apply for retention of 4 caravans in the GB. Enforcement notices required removal of the caravans, mobile homes, equipment and hard core based on the appellant no longer having a nomadic lifestyle. The Inspector noted various Court cases holding that the nomadic habits could be seasonal, even with relatively long periods of settlement, and still be classed as a gypsy. He was born and bred in the gypsy lifestyle, and had not abandoned the nomadic life even though he only moved within a 50km radius. There was also a shortage of gypsy sites in the area. Permission was granted personally with a limit of 4 caravans. DCS 43152244. May 2003

Doncaster GB gypsy site allowed without personal restriction - An Inspector allowed temporary permission for a mobile home and caravan following a High Court ruling that there was no need for a personal restriction on the use of the site. the Inspector said that the needs of the family were unlikely to be met by gypsy sites in the area, and refusal would mean the family moving from one unauthorised site to another. Approval was given for 3 years restricted to use by gypsies with no additional homes etc. aloowed. the High Court ruled it was a matter of judgement buy the Inspector whether to restrict the site to this one family. Doncaster MBC v 1st SoS 19 march 2003. Ref CO/5542/2002

GB policy overrules gypsy needs - A High Court judge ruled that although the local plan policy failed to deal with the need for additional gypsy sites the Inspector was entitled to support the Council's view that 3 caravans would harm the openness of the GB. Coyle v 1stv SoS 20 March 2003. Ref CO/5715/2002

Insufficient gypsy sites not sufficient reason - 4 gypsy caravans occupied a site in the Bristol GB. They had removed the topsoil for a hardstanding at the former paddock and erected a portable toilet. they claimed the Council had failed to provide enough official sites, and they claimed medical and educational needs. They also claimed that Human Rights legislation overrode the need to maitain the character and openness of GB countryside. The Inspector acknowledged their needs but they did not form a very special circumstance. No human rights would be violated. He upheld an enforcement order for their removal. DCS 57655586

E London gypsies lose Human Rights case - not in the GB but of interest. Gypsies claimed they could not be evicted because they should have the same protection as secured tenants under the Human Rights laws. The judge disagreed saying that the Caravan Sites Act 1968 did not provide this security because of the 'actual or potential nomadism' of gypsies justified the special arrangements for local authority gypsy sites. While changing trends might require the law to be redefined, this was for the government to do. Smith v LB Barking & dagenham & others 19 Nov 2002. Ref CO/1842/2002

Essex gypsy eviction - no Human Rights breach - the Court of Appeal upheld a temporary injunction preventing gypsy families occupying a site in the Essex GB. Article 8 of the Human Rights European Convention was raised, claiming a disproportionate response to the GB harm caused and an adverse impact on their children's education and provision of medical treatment. However the gypsies accepted they had no right to remain on the land and there was no dispute over the GB status of the land. Epping Forest DC v Mason 4 Nov 2002. Ref A2/2002/1547

Essex GB gypsy site approved due to personal circumstances - the existing six caravans and structures had a harmful impact on the GB, undermining a locally important landscape and reduced the GB effectiveness in preventing the coalescence of two settlements. Against this was the age of the appellants and state of health requiring care from other family members which could not be guraanteed if the family was split onto different sites. Local gypsy sites had no spare capacity and the appellants had a long-established connection with the area. These personal circumstances justified a personal permission, limiting occupation to one carer living permanently on the site. the Deputy Prime Minister agredd, noting that although the appellant's son would have to leave the site this did not violate his human rights. There was no justification for others to live on the site given the level of harm to the environment. Thurrock C 31 July 2002. DCS 41514336.

Gypsy educational needs not enough - The inspector rejected an appeal in Keston, Bromley, against refusal of planning permission for 4 gypsy families and 4 caravans with two washhouses and hard-standing in GB. He said the need for accommodation was not materially different from what had been considered in previous appeals and did not justify the present proposals.

 The situation relating to arguments based on the educational needs of the children seemed to be confused. Such arguments had been considered in 1992 and 1996. The seven children now involved had been out of school since 1998, but it was not clear what contact had been made with the education service since then. The appellant claimed that the circumstances of two of the children had worsened, but supporting letters he produced referred to different children and he could not give specific details of those to whom he referred. The Inspector said that in any event there was no proof that this was the only site from which the educational need could be met. Though educational needs can be a very special circumstance, it does not follow that they can justify development on any GB land, and in his view they did not do so in this case.

Arguments were also put forward citing the European Convention on Human Rights. The inspector dismissed one because the word 'home' did not include a property on which one wished to locate a home; and he dismissed the other because it had not been demonstrated that the right to education was dependent on residence at the appeal site. He dismissed the appeal awarding costs to the Council noting that the dismissal would not result in a violation of the rights of the intended residents under the Convention. June 2002

Travel with caravan in search of work does not make claimant a gypsy. - A stonemason and bricklayer travelled around the country in a caravan in search of work. The claimant argued that he was a gypsy and qualified for special consideration to site his caravan in the Wiltshire countryside. An Inspector disagreed and this was confirmed in the High Court. The judge said he was no different from any other person engaged in building who were not nomadic or gypsies. Clarke-Gowan v SoSETR 13 June 2002. Ref CO/1010/2002.

Billericay gypsies lose despite shortage of sites - Despite a national and local shortage of sites, the Inspector refused an appeal to site two caravans in the GB rear Billericy. The local plan process was addressing the issue in the area so permission was not justified even on a temporary basis. The High Court judge agreed with the Inspector that it was a matter for planning judgement. Clark & another v SoS DLTR 29 April 2002. ref CO/4627/2001

Gypsy's approval was 'perverse' - An Inspector had upheld an appeal to allow a gypsy family to remain on a site in the GB. Doncaster MBC went to Court and the judge decided that the Inspector's ruling 'bordered on the perverse'. The Inspector ruled that the appellant's son and daughter's educational needs justified retention of a mobile home and septic tank, so he quashed enforcement notices. The Council argued that this set an undesirable precedent which would be used by many gypsies against other councils. The judge said the educational needs were not unusual and concerns about the precedent were justified. There were no 'very special circumstances' to justify this inappropriate development in the GB.Doncaster MBC v Sos DLTR 12 April 2002 Ref CO/3337/2001

Gypsies and Human Rights - 2002 case - The Court of Appeal decided that enforcement action to evict gypsies breached article 8 of the European Convention on Human Rights. But 3 local authorities have been given permission to take the case to the House of Lords. South Bucks DC, Chichester DC, and Wrexham CBC. argue that eviction was necessary where such action was justified in a democratic society and where it was proportionate to the legitimate aims of upholding planning law. SBDC v Porter, CDC v Searle, and WCBC v Berry 20 March 2002. Note - no GB involvement noted in these cases, but of interest.

Unrestricted use of gypsy site in Bristol GB refused - Planning consent for a Bristol GB gypsy site included two conditions. One restricted occupation to named individuals, and the other required cessation of use should all three sisters living there cease to occupy it permanently. In 1998, the S/S granted a 2-year temporary permission, and the council subsequently issued a personal permission removing the temporary restriction. In considering an appeal, the Inspector decided the number of caravans exceeded the permitted number, and they were visually intrusive in their open and natural surroundings. The harm to the GB had therefore increased since the 1998 approval. The 1998 approval was based on the personal circumstances of the sisters, not their relatives. If permitted the occupation would be for a far longer period than that approved in 1998. The lack of alternative accommodation did not outweigh the harm to the GB. S Glcs Council. 20 dec 2001. DCS 517738423

'Gypsies' appeal dismissed re 'pylon site' on Barnet Road, Potters Bar - In June 2001 six gypsy families were allowed to challenge a High Court judgement requiri ng them to vacate a site at Potters Bar, removing their caravans, mobile homes and vehicles. The Court of Appeal permitted this challenge after hearing that they had moved onto the site after closure of a local transit site and there was no space available on authorised sites. The families claimed the move would make them homeless and the education of 16 school-age children would be disrupted. This breached the Council's obligations under article 8 of the European Convention on Human Rights, violating thei r right to respect for their homes, private and family lives. The judge said there was an arguable case that the local authority had erred in treating the human rights aspect of the case as a 'mere planning consideration', failing to carry out a proper balancing exercise in assessing the families' welfare needs. The High Court ruling was therefore open to challenge. At the end of October the Welwyn Hatfield Times reported that the gypsies had lost their appeal, but they might take the case to the House of Lords. We do not have the details as to why they lost.

Gypsy site in Wigan GB rejected - The Court of Appeal upheld the Inspector's refusal to allow retention of a caravan occupied by gypsies in the Wigan GB. The appellant claimed the Inspector did not consider national advice requiring local authorities to make adequate provision for gypsy caravan sites. Although the Inspector doubted the adequacy, the caravan was sited in a very prominent and sensitive tract of the GB whose protection was of overriding importance. The appellant had not shown that any other less damaging or sensitive site was not available. Evans v. SosETR 10 Oct 2001. Ref C/2001/1680

Potters Bar gypsies - Human Rights appeal - Six gypsy families can challenge a High Court judgement requiring them to vacate a site at Potters Bar, removing their caravans, mobile homes and vehicles. The Court of Appeal has permitted this challenge after hearing that they had moved onto the site after closure of a local transit site and there was no space available on authorised sites. The families claimed the move would make them homeless and the education of 16 school-age children would be disrupted. This breached the Council's obligations under article 8 of the European Convention on Human Rights, violating their right to respect for their homes, private and fanmily lives. The judge said there was an arguable case that the local authority had erred in treating the human rights aspect of the case as a 'mere planning consideration', failing to carry out a proper balancing exercise in assessing the fanmilies' welfare needs. The High Court ruling was therefore open to challenge. Hertsmere BC v Harty & others 21.6.2001. Ref A2/01/0731/A. Note - click here for a different ruling by the European Court Update 22 October 2001 - They lost their appeal, but might take the case to the House of Lords according to the Welwyn Hatfield Times.

Bromley Showpeople HQ retained in GB - An Inspector had allowed 23 fairground families to retain their HQ on a GB site in an area of special landscape value. L/B Bromley challenged this decision but the High Court upheld the Inspector's decision. L/B Bromley argued that the site was unsightly and inappropriate in the GB. The judge said the inspector had considered all of these points and the decision should stand. L/B Bromley v SoS ETR 5 July 2001. Ref CO.674.2001.

Sissinghurst Gypsy site refusal did not violate their human rights - Although not in the GB, gypsies were refused consent to put a caravan on a site at Sissinghurst, Kent and the Inspector ruled that this did not violate articles 8 and 14 of the European Convention on Human Rights. This was in accordance with L/B Greenwich v Powell 1989 i.e. a person may be a gypsy even though a nomadic lifestyle is led for only seasonally and involves the use of a fixed abode for part of the year. On that basis the appellant was a gypsy. The appellant's right to family life under article 8 had to be balanced against the economic well-being of the country and this included preservation of the environment. In this case the development inflicted substantial harm to a special landscape area. The Inspector also ruled that there was no indication that the appellant would suffer discrimination as a result of the appeal being dismissed in comparison with a person of any other status who might wish to establish a similar use in a comparable location. Tunbridge Wells BC 28 March 2001 DCS No. 35619150

Basildon travelling showpeople win appeal with costs - A 1ha GB site has been approved for 4 plots for residential caravans together with vehicles and fairground equipment. Premission had previously been refused. The Inspector agreed with an earlier colleague that it was inappropriate reducing the openness of the GB and harmed the semi-rural area. Having previously been refused, the appellants searched for a suitable site , both larger and smaller, without success. This amounted to a very special circumstance. Another very special circumstance was the 10 children, 8 of them attending local schools. Costs were awarded because the Council failed to produce appropriate evidence following the refusal, and rejected the advice of its officers, relying upon the previous appeal decision. Basildon DC 14 Feb 2001 DCS No. 41702090

Need for gypsy sites outweighs Sevenoaks GB harm - The Secretary of State granted permission for 4 gypsy sites after accepting the Inspector's advice that there was a severe shortage of gypsy sites in the locality, and all the existing sites in that district were in the GB. Refusal would lead to more unauthorised encampments disrupting family life and the children's education. this was a very special circumstance, warranting permission. Conditions were imposed on restricting the number of caravans and occupancy to persons of gypsy status. Sevenoaks DC 23 Feb 2001 DCS No. 33371964

Bristol Gypsy site approved because of lack of suitable sites - 2 gypsy pitches with a total capacity of 6 caravans were approved by the SoS on Bristol GB land. This overturned a 1992 dismissal of an appeal against enforcement notices requiring the site to be cleared. Since 1992 the Council had not provided any more gypsy sites. The SoS accepted the substantial shortfall of suitable sites regionally and locally which was unlikely to be remedied in the immediate future. Refusal would encourage itinerant roadside camping, and be a serious interference with the appellant's right to a home under article 8 of the European Convention on Human Rights. A personal consent was granted rather than unrestricted occupation by any gypsy family. South Gloucester Council 29 Jan 2001. Ref APP/P0119/A/00/1043427. Note If there is a clear shortage of permanent gypsy sites the SOS and Inspectors appear to be increasingly unsupportive of Councils, even on GBs, if they have not identified sites in the District Plan. Last year's revision to PPG3 said that groups with particular housing needs should be specifically catered for.

Showpeople site approved in GB - The SoS reversed his previous decision and allowed 23 plots on a 5.5 ha site in the Metropolitan GB as permanent accommodation for travelling showpeople. Although the use was inappropriate and harmful to the openness of the area, very special circumstances justified reversing the previous refusal. After the refusal the applicants extended their search for a suitable site to include all 33 London Boroughs and contacted 80 estate agents without success. This level of coverage was deemed sufficient to show that alternative sites might exist, free from GB and landscape constraints, no such site had been identified. London Borough of Bromley. 11 January 2001. Ref. APP/G5180/A/00/1041454

Gypsy transit site refused in Bristol GB - The Sec of State refused a transit site for 10 residential caravans for gypsies in the Bristol GB. The appellant argued that there was a substantial need for more gypsy sites in the area, a recent count showing 43 families with a total of 133 caravans on unauthorised sites. The Inspector agreed that very special circumstances included the lack of transit sites, the substantial unmet need for permanent sites, and the site location next to 2 motorways.  The appeal was lost because the access was sub-standard and an appropriate visual splay could not be achieved. Approval could prejudice any future provision of gypsy sites in the area should a negative condition (re the splay) be imposed since the site would be taken into account when assessing future needs. S. Gloucestershire Council 20.1.2000 - APP/P0119/A/00/1043177.

Tandridge Gypsy site in GB refused - The Inspector refused an appeal for a single gypsy caravan on a 0.3 ha site in the GB. Previous appeals had failed in 1993 and 1998. There was no substantive need proven for additional gypsy caravan sites to warrant granting permission. The appellant could have found a pitch on a council-operated site despite his arguments that the site suffered problems of violence and drug abuse. Article 8 of the European Convention on Human Rights and the right of the appellant to occupy their home free from interference did not overrule the need to protect the GB. Also, evidence produced was contradictory. Tandridge Council 24 Oct 2000 - T/APP/M3645/A/00/1037269

Gypsy use of land retained. - Gravesham Council (Kent) failed to provide an alternative site so a gypsy family retained the right to use GB land for 2 caravans and a toilet. The Inspector acknowledged the conflict with GB policy but there was a need to provide the appellant with a home in the areawith no alternative sites. A permanent residence was not allowed, only 3 years temporary permission to give time to find a more suitable site.

Travelling showpeople's store would encroach into GB - The Secretary of State agreed with the DETR Inspector in refusing temporary permission for this being a clear encroachment into the open countryside, and contribute to sprawl in the GB between Guildford and Aldershot. A similar proposal on the same site was refused in 1988 for the same reasons. There were no very special circumstances to justify allowing such development in the GB.

Gypsy family lose right to station caravan in field due to fears for rural character of the area. - Not in GB, but Blaby District Council (Leicester) granted temporary permission in 1996 for use of the site near Enderby to house a caravan, toilet and washroom facilities. Council refused to renew consent because of the adverse impact on the appearance and character of the surrounding landscape. The DETR Inspector noted the appellant's desire to live in the area to provide a settled base for his children's education, but still dismissed the appeal. (N Mymms GBS comment - an interesting comparison with Swan Yard, Bell Bar.

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