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TEMPORARY GRANT OF PLANNING PERMISSION COULD HAVE ALLOWED GYPSY CHILDREN TO COMPLETE EDUCATION

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A family of gypsies, including 12 children, have triumphed in a High Court ...
A family of gypsies, including 12 children, have triumphed in a High Court

fight to stave off eviction from a green belt site in Dartford.

Mr Justice Harrison has ruled that the ODPM , which rejected the family's application

for planning permission to keep their six caravans on land at Sutton-at-Hone,

Dartford, had failed to consider granting permission for the family to stay

temporarily.

The judge said that the ODPM must now reconsider the matter, dealing with

the issue of whether a temporary planning permission could be granted to last long

enough either for the children to complete their education, or for the family to

find an alternative site.

The family, described on court documents as Romanies and headed by three

brothers all born in nearby St Paul's Cray, had their application for

planning permission refused first by Dartford BC and then by one of the ODPM's planning inspectors.

Both found that the site was subject to particular protection as green belt

land, and that the families' personal circumstances are not special enough

to justify the development, but the family claimed the land was not worth

preserving.

As part of the family's High Court challenge spearheaded by landowner

William Lee, they claimed that the site is surrounded by other structures,

has been previously built on, and is connected to utilities.

Lee, who bought the land in July 2002, claimed that the family's six

caravans are effectively hidden from view in a copse, and that he plans to

plant more trees to screen them even further.

He shares the site with his wife Beverley and his brothers Joseph and John,

also claimed that in refusing their application for permission, the

authorities have failed to adequately consider the educational needs of the

twelve children in the extended family, six of whom are currently at school

in the area, and the rest of which are expected to start if permission is

secured.

Mr Justi ce Harrison today allowed the family's challenge on one of their

grounds, that the inspector had failed to consider granting a temporary

permission to allow them time to find an alternative site.

Quashing the decision, and ordering the ODPM to reconsider the matter,

the judge said: 'In my view, the question of temporary planning permission

simply has not been addressed in the secretary of state's decision.

'In these circumstances I have decided that this application succeeds, and

it follows that the secretary of state's decision must be quashed in order

for him to deal with the issue of temporary planning permission.'

STRAND NEWS SERVICE

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