Thursday, October 11, 2012
FROM THIS IS BATH, THE BATH CHRONICLE
PHOTO TRAVELLERS SITE
A woman gypsy is to mount a test case at the Court of Appeal in the latest twist in her fight to live on land near Keynsham.
Kathleen O'Connor was refused planning permission for a private caravan site on land at Redlynch Lane, Queen Charlton, first by Bath and North East Somerset Council then, on appeal, by a Government planning inspector.
Those decisions were backed earlier this year at the High Court in London by Deputy Judge John Howells QC who dismissed her challenge to them.
But now, in a case which will be watched by local authorities and travellers throughout the UK, she has been given the green light by one of the UK's top judges, Lord Justice Sir Patrick Elias, to challenge that ruling.
The case will focus on the provision made for gypsies and travellers by local councils at a time when B&NES itself is finalising its list of likely official sites. At the moment, there are no official pitches in the district.
Lord Justice Elias said that Mrs O'Connor had an "arguable point" that the inspector had failed to give sufficient weight to the unmet need for gypsy and traveller sites in her area.
Mrs O'Connor, who owns land next door which is used for the grazing of horses, lives on the site with her extended family.
At the time of the inspector's decision in February last year, they included her daughter and three sons, and other family members.
She had applied for planning permission for the change of use of the land to a private gypsy and traveller caravan site, including the stationing of two single unit static caravans and three touring caravans.
The inspector, James Ellis, decided that the arguments in favour of granting permission did not clearly outweigh the harm to the green belt that would result.
He acknowledged that Mrs O'Connor suffered from health problems and needed a settled base but concluded that even temporary permission could not be given.
Mrs O'Connor claims that he should have given additional weight to the unmet need for traveller sites in the area, and that he failed to adjust the planning balance to be struck when considering whether to grant temporary, rather than permanent, permission.
Posted by Morgan at 2:35 PM