Travellers win appeal to stay in Battle

A TRAVELLERS site, which was set up illegally on land in Battle, has been granted permission to stay.

Three static caravans appeared at Greenacres on Loose Farm Lane, without planning permission, in summer 2010.

The caravans were refused planning permission by Rother District Council.

But following an appeal, the decision has now been overturned by the Government Planning Inspectorate.

The news comes the week when national attention was focused on the UK’s largest illegal settlement, the Dale Farm encampment in Basildon, Essex, which was due to be cleared by bailiffs

on Monday. However, the travellers won the injunction restraining Basildon Council from clearing the site pending a further High Court hearing today.

This week, Battle Town Council said it was ‘disappointed’ by the Loose Farm Lane decision, and criticised Rother for not objecting more strongly to the plans.

Cllr Richard Jessop, chairman of planning, said: “I’m disappointed with the inspector’s decision, but seeing how Rother presented their objections to the site, I personally found no difficulty agreeing with the inspector.

“I think Rother’s case was poorly presented.

“If we get repetitions, I hope Rother are more robust and think more carefully about their objections and how they present them.”

Cllr Jessop added: “What we need is the success of Dale Farm to occur, from Basildon Town Council’s point of view, so it shows the principal planning law is applicable to everyone.”

Last autumn the town council launched a scathing attack on Rother’s planning department over its handling of Greenacres.

Councillors claimed Rother failed to act immediately after it was alerted to the caravans being built illegally on the site.

In March 2010, a traveller, who had set up home without planning permission on land at Telham Lane in Battle, was granted temporary permission by the inspectorate to remain on the site for two-and-a-half years.

The two-and-a-half year extension was granted to allow Rother District Council time to find land for a new travellers’ site.

The only official travellers’ site in the district is in Robertsbridge, but the site is overcrowded and there is currently a waiting list for pitches.

Battle town council chairman, Cllr Ron Harris, said: “We are still faffing around to get a policy within Rother for the sites to be provided.”

Rother District Councillor Angharad Davies said she had hoped to set up a steering group in a bid to tackle the problem of a lack of traveller sites in Rother, but said she had been “shouted down” over the issue.

She added that the local authority was not due to discuss the issue until next summer.

Cllr Jessop said: “They have had this on the table for two years already.”

He added: “We will send a strong letter after next week’s planning committee meeting.

“I will assure you of that.”