Future of Gypsy site is out of council hands

THE future of an illegal Gypsy travellers’ site is now out of Fenland Council’s hands and will be decided by a government inspector.

Today’s (Wednesday) Fenland Planning Committee meeting will hear how the council has lost the right to determine a retrospective application by Elizabeth Curtis for a change of use to create seven residential plots for Romani Gypsies involving the creation of a 1.5metre high bunding at Redmoor Lane, Wisbech.

A report states: “The applicant has submitted an appeal to the Planning Inspectorate in respect of this current application on grounds of non-determination - therefore the council no longer retain jurisdiction to determine this application.”

However, it goes on to say that if the council was able to deal with the application the officers would recommend refusal even though the parish council has no objections.

Numerous previous applications for the site have been refused, with those decisions being upheld on appeal.

One of the main reasons for refusal has been concerns over a potential flooding risk.

The Environment Agency has objected on the grounds the site is within Flood Zone 3a and the proposed use is classed as highly vulnerable in this location.

One local resident has also objected on the grounds of flood risk and Highways has also raised the issue of the access having a visibility splay well below the required width.

The report points out that following the most recent appeal in November 2009 Ms Curtis was given 14 months to remove the currently unauthorised structures from the site which include static caravans, touring caravans and utility buildings.

At the time the government inspector said in her conclusion: “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.”

Since the deadline set by that ruling passed earlier this year Fenland Council has taken no action to ensure compliance.

So it is now a case of wait and see what the result of the latest appeal might be.