Planning Inspectorate overturns enforcement ruling by Fenland Council to allow for small travellers’ site near Wisbech

Bevis Lane and New Drove junction, Wisbech St Mary, near to where Stephen Upton has won a planning d

Bevis Lane and New Drove junction, Wisbech St Mary, near to where Stephen Upton has won a planning dispute with Fenland Council to allow the siting of two traveller caravans. Picture; GOOGLE - Credit: Archant

A Government planning inspector upheld an appeal by a Wisbech traveller that would have forced him to remove two touring caravans from his land.

Victory for Stephen Upton in his enforcement battle with Fenland District Council also included acknowledgement by the inspector that the district has a shortage of traveller sites.

Planning inspector Katie Peerless concluded: "The benefits of the proposal in planning terms include the provision of a gypsy site in an area where there is an established need for such development."

She said that although the extent of the need is disputed the provision of even one site would be of considerable benefit in an area where it has "clearly proved difficult" to find suitable provision.

Ms Peerless said Fenland Council told her that the shortfall in the district is 10 sites but Mr Upton had claimed that that was more likely to be 55.

Accepting that Mr Upton was a local resident who wanted to stay local, she said the site on land south of the junction of New Drove and Bevis Lane, Wisbech St Mary, would give the family a proper home.

"It would also allow the children of the family to have a settled base close to a village where the youngest child is due to start at nursery early next year," said Ms Peerless.

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Fenland Council had issued enforcement proceedings against Mr Upton in January, 2018, and claimed he had created a "material change of use" to the land by putting caravans and a container unit on the site.

The council had wanted the removal of the caravans and had prepared to enforce it within six months.

However Mr Upton can now remain there permanently.

The inspector dismissed fears of flooding - raised by the council - reflecting that "the actual harm caused by this would be slight, provided suitable conditions are put in place.

"I conclude therefore that the benefits of the proposal are material considerations sufficient to outweigh any conflict with local and national planning policy and that planning permission for the development should be granted."

Ms Peerless said she had considered whether permission should be temporary to allow the council more time to identify and allocate sites.

"However this is a single site in a location that I have found to be suitable on a long term basis, so I conclude that a temporary permission is not necessary," she said.