QUEEN'S BENCH DIVISION
THE ADMINISTRATIVE COURT
B e f o r e :
|THE QUEEN ON THE APPLICATION OF SAM MOSS||(CLAIMANT)|
|THE FIRST SECRETARY OF STATE||(FIRST DEFENDANT)|
|SOUTH CAMBRIDGE DISTRICT COUNCIL||(SECOND DEFENDANT)|
Smith Bernal Wordwave Limited
190 Fleet Street London EC4A 2AG
Tel No: 020 7404 1400 Fax No: 020 7831 8838
(Official Shorthand Writers to the Court)
MR J MAURICI (instructed by Treasury Solicitor) appeared on behalf of the DEFENDANTS
Crown Copyright ©
" ... gently undulating open countryside approximately 700m west of the edge of the village of Swavesey. The area forms part of the Bedfordshire and Cambridgeshire Claylands (Countryside Agency Character Area 88). The appeal site is bounded to the north and west by Rose and Crown Road with the southern boundary marked by a deciduous hedge that separates it from the adjoining field occupied by a gypsy family ... "
"Outside the Green Belt, proposals for caravans for gypsies and travelling show people on a site consisting of a single or more pitches, will only be considered when the need for a site is shown to be essential to enable the applicants to continue to exercise a travelling lifestyle for the purpose of making and seeking their livelihood. Occupation would be restricted to gypsies or travelling show people (as the case may be) and may be limited to a temporary period and/or for the benefit of named occupier(s). Where the need is proven, to the Council's satisfaction, the following criteria will have to be met.
"(1) The site is reasonably located for schools, shops and other local services;
"(2) The site would have minimal impact on the amenities of existing local residents and adjoining land uses; concentration of sites will be avoided;
"(3) The site would not, either on its own, or cumulatively, have a significant adverse effect on the rural character and appearance, or the amenities of the surrounding area; stricter assessment would apply in areas of best landscape.
"(4) The site can be satisfactorily assimilated into its surroundings by existing or proposed landscaping; an approved landscaping scheme will be required.
"(5) The use of the site would not give rise to an unacceptable parking, highway access or service provision problems.
"(6) The site would not adversely affect any buildings of historic or archaeological importance, or sites of wildlife or nature conservation value."
"(8) The site has adequate infrastructural connections to local services including water supply."
"The statutory duty of Local Authorities to provide caravan sites for gypsies residing in, or resorting to an area is no longer enshrined in law. Structure Plan Policy SP4/6 requires adequate provision to be made for gypsies who reside in, or resort to the County through the Local Plan. The Council's policy is broadly to assist gypsies in the process of owning, developing and managing their own sites as long as there is an identified need, and the proposal does not breach countryside protection policies. The main aim has to be to make appropriate provision while protecting amenity. Gypsy sites within the Green Belt are not an appropriate form of development."
"Where special need is shown for a site to be occupied by a gypsy family which would not ordinarily be permitted, any planning permission will be likely to restrict occupation, and use to either that family or gypsy occupiers generally. Once that use is no longer required the Council may not permit further use as a caravan site for another gypsy family, or for gypsy use generally (as the case may be), or as a caravan site at all."
"The use would not detract from convenient, safe and enjoyable use of a public right of way."
"After the proposed repeal of this duty, local planning authorities should continue to indicate the regard they have had to meeting gypsies' accommodation needs. Repeal of the statutory duty will make it all the more important that local planning authorities make adequate gypsy site provision in their development plans, through appropriate use of locational and/or criteria based policies. Structure plans ... should continue to set out broad strategic policies, and provide a general framework for site provision. Local plans ... should continue to provide detailed policies."
"12. Local plans ... should wherever possible identify locations suitable for gypsy sites, whether local authority or private sites. Where this is not possible, they should set out clear, realistic criteria for suitable locations, as a basis for site provision policies."
"13. As a rule it will not be appropriate to make provision for gypsy sites in areas of open land where development is severely restricted, for example, Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty, Sites of Special Scientific Interest, and other protected areas. Gypsy sites are not regarded as being among those uses of land which are normally appropriate in Green Belts."
"The aim should be as far as possible to help gypsies to help themselves, to allow them to secure the kind of sites they need, and thus help to avoid breaches of planning control ... "
"Where a development plan contains policies relevant to a proposal for a gypsy site, authorities must determine the planning application in accordance with the plan unless material considerations indicate otherwise. If the plan is not relevant, applications should be determined in the light of all material considerations. Authorities should recognise that they may receive applications from gypsies without local connections which could not reasonably have been foreseen in their development plan policies. Authorities should not refuse private applications on the grounds that they consider public provision in the area to be adequate, or because alternative accommodation is available elsewhere on the authorities' own sites."
"At the hearing, it was evident that, even if each appellant kept the number of units to the minimum necessary to meet their particular circumstances, there would be a total of 24 caravans as well as the eight mobile homes on the encampment. I consider that the number of proposed caravans and mobile homes would result in the use dominating the landscape."
"The majority of the Appellants indicated that they would like to have four caravans on each of their plots of land. I did however emphasise to the Inspector that this was their wish, however the need for a site was of utmost importance and if she felt that the result would be an excessive number of caravans then a condition to limit the numbers to one or two would be acceptable."
"I had a separate discussion on each of the plots and heard about each of their personal requirements separately, and no indication of fewer caravans being acceptable on any other plots was given. At no other time was I aware of any reference to the accommodation of only one caravan per plot and I was very specific in the discussion on conditions to ask for the minimum number of caravans each plot owner would accept."
"4(1) The effect of the proposals on the character and appearance of the area, having regard to the location of the countryside;
"4(2) Whether or not the personal circumstances are such as to outweigh any harm to the countryside;
"4(3) The effect of use of the access on the free flow of traffic and conditions of highway safety ... and;
"4(4) Whether or not adequate provision can be made for surface and foul water drainage."
"I saw that even with the limited number of vans currently on the appeals sites, the development is intrusive and out of character with the countryside."
"I consider that the scale of development proposed would be visually intrusive and harmful to the rural character. In my opinion, there would be a disproportionate amount of development on the area of land and the number of mobile homes/caravans would erode the landscape character and openness of the area.
"(13) The site is well outside the village framework in open, gently undulating countryside and I consider that the proposal would be contrary to the relevant development plan policies that aim to protect the countryside from inessential development. Landscaping could assist in the screening/assimilation of the development into the wider landscape. Nevertheless, due to the number of mobile homes/caravans proposed, I do not consider that planting would adequately overcome the visual impact of the disproportionate level of development on the isolated site."
"I saw that the appeal site was well maintained and it was obvious that all the appellants felt the need for somewhere that they could maintain and provide the environment they desired for their family unit. There were a variety of personal circumstances for the caravans, mainly relating to the education of children and/or the care of elderly parents. One of the appellants had a settled base in Cheshire from which he has received medical attention, but he did not like living in a house and now travelled to Cheshire only on a seasonal basis.
"(17) I accept that a settled base is necessary for children to receive a reasonable education, it is the families' duty to look after elderly relatives and stopping on unauthorised sites is now very difficult and can result in families being moved on frequently. Nevertheless, the proposal for up to four caravans as well as a mobile home on each of the eight sites would meet more than the immediate family needs and increase the area of structures to be assimilated into the open countryside. I do not find the need for the extended families to reside on the appeal sites overriding or sufficient to justify the harm from the scale of the use proposed. In the case of the occupier of plot 5, I find that residing in the appeal location is not essential as he has a settled base where he can occupy his caravan. If that appellant were granted a settled base, it appeared he would like to encourage other family members to leave their existing settled bases to move onto the appeal site increasing the number of caravans on his site."
"I have considered whether a personal permission should be granted on any of the sites in order to meet the particular circumstances of the appellant. The education of children is desirable and the care of elderly relatives laudable. Nevertheless, I do not find that the personal circumstances justify the number of caravans proposed on each site and the resulting harm to the character and appearance of the area. I consider therefore that the proposals would fail to accord with policy HG29 (3) and (4)."
"The major issues were twofold:
"(a) Lack of sites for gypsies in the area.
"(b) That the personal circumstances of each occupier was such as to justify special circumstances and thus the granting of personal permissions for each individually."
"The Inspector had received and read the individual statements of each Appellant, they then provided further information which basically confirmed their need for a settled site, either due to the need for their children to be educated, or because of problems caused by health or age. In my experience of this type of planning appeal, these are issues which most Inspectors consider of great importance."
"For the reasons given above, I have found that the appeal proposals to provide for a minimum of 32, but up to 40 mobile homes/caravans would be seriously harmful to the need to protect the landscape. I am satisfied that this legitimate aim can only be safeguarded by the refusal of permission".
"In balancing the personal circumstances and the planning issues, I consider that neither the personal circumstances of the appellants and their families, nor the shortfall in the provision of local sites available for purchase by the appellants for gypsy occupation are so great as to outweigh the harm to the character of the landscape from the number of caravans proposed. For the reasons given above and having regard to all other matters raised, I conclude that the appeals should be dismissed."
"In summing up for the Appellants I emphasised that it was quite possible that the Inspector might find in favour of one Appellant and refuse another. The Decision letter makes it impossible to understand why, on an individual basis, the appeals were refused."
"I have considered whether a personal permission should be granted on any of the sites in order to meet the particular circumstances of the appellant."
"Nevertheless, I do not find that the personal circumstances justify the number of caravans proposed on each site and the resulting harm to the character and appearance of the area."