Travellers who set up site on green belt land in Huddersfield can stay for at least 3 years

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Planning inspector reveals reasons behind the surprise decision

Travellers who set up a campsite on green belt land without planning permission have been allowed to stay for at least three years.

They refused to move from moorland off New Hey Road at Scammonden where they have set up an unauthorised site.

After failing to get planning permission from Kirklees Council they took the issue to a formal appeal which was heard at Huddersfield Town Hall.

Now the inspector, John Murray, has made his ruling and granted the travellers the right to stay for a three year temporary period as they have “very special circumstances” and forcing them to leave would “constitute a serious interference with their human rights.”

After three years the land must be fully restored to how it was before.

The site near the former Nont Sarah’s pub was set up at the start of last year and only then did the travellers seek planning permission, which was refused.

They then ignored deadlines to quit the site, which they own.

The plans were for a development of pitches for four families of Irish travellers. Each would have two caravans – one mobile and the other touring – and there would be another static caravan too, making nine in total. Cars would also be parked on the site.

The retrospective application was submitted to Kirklees Council by Warwickshire-based development consultant Philip Brown, who said previously: “They felt they had to get on with it. In their view they did not have any choice.

“When you are in a position of having appropriate accommodation you have that choice, but if that’s not the case then you act in the best way you can for your family and they felt they had to move so it was a case of doing things as quickly as possible.

“They have moved from housing which was causing them a lot of problems. This housing is not what they are used to and it does have an effect on travellers’ mental health.

“I know this is difficult for people who live in houses to understand but travellers do have an aversion to living in bricks and mortar.”

The appeal decision reveals that the green belt land has now been replaced by 3,000 square metres of hard surface with the site concealed from public view with banking up to 3m high.

It states that the site “conflicts with one of the purposes of green belt, namely to assist in safeguarding the countryside from encroachment” and causes “moderate harm to the character and appearance of the area.”

But it adds: “The council concedes that it cannot identify any pitches to meet the need identified in the Kirklees Gypsy and Traveller and Travelling Showperson Accommodation Assessment, August 2015 (GTAA) or demonstrate that it has a five year supply of specific deliverable sites. It follows that the council has an immediate need for at least 10 pitches to meet the needs of the traveller community and has failed to identify a supply of sites to meet its five year needs.”

The appeal reveals details of the families at the site which is home to Thomas Ward, his three adult sons and their wives along with 10 children aged from one to 13 with two babies due in the next few months. Only these families are allowed to live on the site.

The report states: “They typically travel for six to eight months of the year and the wives and children have travelled with them during school holidays. Their work includes property maintenance and construction, block paving, laying tarmac, painting and decorating, buying and selling vans and caravans and horse trading.”

The appeal summary states that the families cannot carry out “commercial activities” at the site.

And it concludes: “Since there is a lack of available, alternative sites, it is likely that dismissing these appeals would force the family to resort to roadside camping. With 10 young children and two more babies on the way I attach significant weight to the appellants’ and their family’s personal circumstances. I find that the personal circumstances of the site occupiers taken with the overall need for sites and the absence of any suitable alternative accommodation would justify a grant of temporary and personal planning permission.”

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