The Planning Inspectorate has dismissed an appeal by travellers for a 13 pitch caravan site on green belt land, supporting a decision by Runnymede Borough Council which had opposed the unapproved use of the site.
Before the traveller group arrived on the early May bank holiday weekend in 2017, land at Adas Farm, Hardwick Lane, Lyne, was a wooded field.
During the three-day weekend however, the site was almost entirely cleared of trees and vegetation. Hardstanding was laid across the site, timber buildings were erected on concrete bases, septic tanks installed and fences had been assembled.
When the Council discovered the site it immediately applied for an injunction at the High Court stopping its continuing development and occupation.
Council investigators found the site was being developed to accommodate over 23 households. A retrospective planning application for the caravan site was submitted by the travellers shortly after the development started.
The development of the site and its use were brought to an end by the court order and the site was vacated on 23 June 2017. Planning permission was refused and an enforcement notice issued requiring the site to be cleared.
The travellers appealed the refusal of planning permission and the enforcement notice. The appeal was finally determined in May 2019 with the Inspector upholding the Council's decision and the enforcement notice.
Planning Inspector Paul Dignan wrote in his ruling: I conclude that the appeal development, which was intentional unauthorised development, would cause unacceptable harm to the green belt. That harm is not outweighed by any of the other considerations, including the need for more gypsy or traveller sites in the area, or the prospective occupiers' personal circumstances, on either a temporary or permanent basis."
Paul Turrell, Chief Executive of Runnymede Borough Council said: "We appreciate travellers need appropriate locations to live, but this was not a suitable site for this kind of development. Adas Farm is a key green belt site which needed to be protected. We are pleased the Inspector gave a clear message about this site and that we were able to secure the right outcome."
Further to this decision made by the Planning Inspectorate to dismiss the appeal, lawyers for the travellers' will be appealing against the ruling.
The appeal to the High Court is against the Secretary of State for the Ministry of Housing Communities and Local Government, which is responsible for the Planning Inspectorate, and not the Council.
The existing High Court injunction which prevents further unauthorised development and occupation of the site will remain in place.
Further updates will be provided as and when we are made aware of them.
Pictures below show before and after aerial images of the site at Adas Farm.