Council admits it has lost the right to determine illegal Wisbech travellers site

FENLAND Council admitted it has lost the right to determine a controversial bid to legalise a ten acre gypsy travellers’ site after sitting on the application for nearly a year.

“The council no longer retain the jurisdiction to determine this application,” officers will tell Fenland District Council Planning Committee next Wednesday.

However a seven page report says that “in the event that the council were able to determine the application, the application would be recommended for refusal.”

It means a decision on whether seven mobile homes in Redmoor Lane, Wisbech, get planning consent is now up to a Government inspector.

A report to the committee says 1.5 high metre bunding is intended to screen the seven plots for Romani Gypsies. In addition to seven static caravans the owner, Elizabeth Curtis, wants room for seven touring caravans too.

Several previous applications for the site have been refused, with the most recent dismissed on appeal.

An enforcement appeal two years ago held that “the location of this highly vulnerable form of development in a flood risk area remained a fundamental objection to retention of the use.”

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A report to next week’s committee from planning chiefs says that “although acknowledging interference with the appellants’ human rights, this was necessary in the public interest both in terms of public safety and to protect the countryside, and proportionate”.

Ms Curtis was given 14 months to remove the “unauthorised structures” but the committee will hear that Fenland Council has held off from moving against the site once that period elapsed.

Stuart Harrison, the agent for Ms Curtis, said all the families on the site “come from old established ethnic indigenous ‘Roman Gypsy’ families.

“They are not Irish or New Age Travellers and all occupants are a related family group and have always maintained a Romani Gypsy lifestyle.”

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