July 24 2014 Latest news:
Story by: KATH SANSOM Photos by: ROGER RAWSON , .
Friday, June 13, 2014
A nine year planning wrangle came to an end when enforcement officers ripped down a £250,000 home belonging to gypsies in the Fens.
The two caravans, which were said to be 18 inches too wide, were dismantled after a long-running planning dispute.
Rodney Wilson and his partner, Pamela Wenn, were on their way out when the 15-strong enforcement team turned up with police at their home at Walsoken, near Wisbech on Thursday (June 12).
They worked quickly to dismantle the immaculate park home on Broad End Road, whilst Mr Wilson and Ms Wenn were frantically left to pack their personal belongings whilst watching their house taken down around them.
A distraught Ms Wenn said: “If they had arrived another 15 minutes later we wouldn’t have been here. We were led to believe that we had 48 hours notice - they have jumped in before we have appealed against the decision.
“There has been no notification, no leeway, they just turned up - the council have treated us like scum, but what do you do?”
She tearfully added: “I have no where else to go.”
The couple moved to the site nine years ago when it was vacant, with a ban on development.
However after winning an appeal in 2011, they were granted permission to put two mobile homes together. It emerged that the home, which had three bedrooms and a conservatory, was built 18ins too wide - 24ft wide, instead of the maximum 22ft 3ins permitted under complex guidelines governing caravan sites.
After an injunction was lifted, which was in place pending the latest planning appeal, the council were in a position to take action.
A West Norfolk Council spokesman said: “Mr Wilson stationed a park home on this site in 2005, without planning permission.
“We have attempted to work with him in an effort to resolve this situation and it is only after nine years that we are finally forced to take action to remove this building.
“We always work hard to find a solution to planning breaches to avoid the need for direct action, but in this instance we have been left with no alternative.
“It is important that people have confidence in the planning system and that it is applied fairly and consistently to all groups in society.
“Gypsies are given special exemption to station caravans in the countryside to reflect their lifestyle and particular needs. These exemptions do not extend to what has been stationed on this site, and it is effectively a house that has been built.”