Travellers hire former planning chiefs to successfully overturn Fenland Council decision on mobile home site

TWO former executives of Fenland District Council teamed up to defeat their former bosses by over turning a decision to stop travellers putting mobile homes at Friday Bridge.

Nick Seaton, now in private practice after being made redundant last year, teamed up with his former boss Derek McKenzie- also released by the council last year- to fight for Fred and Violet Smith at a planning appeal.

The Smiths had been refused permission for two mobile homes, two touring caravans and a day room at Bar Drove, Friday Bridge.

The council had alleged the homes would detract from the appearance of the area, would impinge on nearby houses, and questioned whether there was a need for more travellers’ sites in Fenland.

Not only did Mr Seaton and Mr McKenzie – now a Yorkshire based consultant- overturn the decision but the Government inspector criticised Fenland District Council for not providing enough sites.

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“There is ample evidence that the district has a high level of unmet need for gypsy and traveller sites,” said John Felgate.

Mr Felgate said Fenland District Council currently had no policies to address either the issue of need or the other aims of increasing the supply of suitable sites. There was no “adopted criteria policy for assessing such proposals on an ad hoc policy” either said the inspector. Mr Felgate said biannual counts of traveller sites in Fenland showed there was a strong demand from people with attachments to the area and indicated a “significant level of unmet need”.

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He quoted the council’s traveller and diversity officer who said that all council owned sites were at full capacity, with no vacancies.

“Low rates of vacancy and turnover are generally associated with areas of under provision,” said Mr Felgate. “This evidence further reinforces my view that the district had an underlying need for more sites.”

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