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TRAVELLERS CAN STAY ON DISPUTED SITE

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Travellers occupying a Staffordshire campsite declared illegal by planners may nevertheless be staying put until ne...
Travellers occupying a Staffordshire campsite declared illegal by planners may nevertheless be staying put until next year after they won a High Court victory.

Four families amounting to about 20 people, including a number of young children, are occupying the site at Hilderstone Road, Spot Acre, Stone, Staffordshire.

The families have applied for permission to turn the land where they are staying into a permanent gypsy site, but this was refused by planning officials and an enforcement notice ordering the families off the site was issued on 3 May this year.

The families' appeal against the enforcement notice was dismissed by a government planning inspector, but they yesterday launched a challenge to that decison before judge, Mr Justice Beatson, at London's High Court.

The judge granted them permission to argue their case at a full hearing, after the travellers' barrister, Alan Masters, told him the planning inspector had 'erred in law.'

Mr Masters told the court that, under new provisions governing planning applications by travellers, the four families should have been granted temporary permission to stay put, pending a move to one of several new official traveller sites which are likely to open in Staffordshire next year.

The barrister went on to say that the planning inspector had 'erred in law in that he failed to understand and apply the balancing exercise,' as spelled out in the new rules.

Mr Justice Beatson granted a stay of execution, meaning that the travellers can stay on the site until after the High Court has had time to grapple with their case.

Mr Masters said outside court that the full hearing may not be listed for hearing until next January, giving the gypsies at least a temporary reprieve.

If they eventually win their day in court, the case will be sent back before planners for a fresh inquiry.

STRAND NEWS SERVICE

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