Owner's bid to launch gypsy scheme

PUBLISHED: 09:42 21 January 2008 | UPDATED: 08:18 02 June 2010

CONTROVERSIAL: The field off Wisbech’s A47 bypass which could become a travellers’ site.

CONTROVERSIAL: The field off Wisbech's A47 bypass which could become a travellers' site.

A MAN threatened with prosecution after a council suspected he might open an illegal gypsy travellers site in Wisbech has applied for planning consent to allow the development to go ahead. Reuben Stewart has asked Fenland District Council for permission

A MAN threatened with prosecution after a council suspected he might open an illegal gypsy travellers' site in Wisbech has applied for planning consent to allow the development to go ahead.

Reuben Stewart has asked Fenland District Council for permission to use part of a 25-acre site off the A47 bypass - known as Little Acre - for six plots with hard-standings.

He has promised that if permission is granted he will create a new access drive although it "would seem sensible to utilise an existing opening to the bypass".

Fenland planners warned last autumn that it was unlikely Mr Stewart would get the go-ahead and agreed to take "formal injunctive action" if he jumped the gun.

Steve Robshaw, a planning enforcement officer, warned in September that "the council has a reasonable expectation that there will be unauthorised development and change of use of land at the site".

Mr Robshaw claimed to have heard "from a very reliable source" that it was Mr Stewart's intention to put mobile homes on the site for use by family members and others.

Councillors were told that at a site meeting last January Mr Stewart produced sketch drawings of the proposed layout but was waiting until crops growing there had been harvested before be began work.

However, Mr Robshaw said it was unlikely the county council would want any more traffic in or out of the site without considerable improvements to the access.

"In fact, they were not at all sure that the highways department would want any additional traffic movements on to or off the A47 even if the site entrance was improved," he said.

The site is outside the planning authority's development area boundary.

A district council spokesman said this week that following the September meeting "Mr Stewart gave an oral and written undertaking not to do anything until planning permission had been granted. He has been as good as his word.

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