Wed, 07 Sep 2011
VICTORY FOR HUGH RICHARDS AND JACK SMYTH AT HARD-FOUGHT HIGH PROFILE GYPSY INQUIRY IN CONNECTION WITH LAND AT KITES NEST LANE AND BROWNLEY GREEN LANE, BEAUSALE, WARWICKSHIRE
Hugh Richards represented Warwick District Council (“WDC”) and Jack Smyth the local residents group which opposed the unauthorised development (Friends of the Green Belt - “FroG”).
The inquiry followed enforcement action which was taken expediously by WDC after the appellant and his friends and family moved on to the site over the May Bank Holiday weekend 2010. They established a gypsy site over the weekend but their activities were stunted by a Stop Notice and later a High Court Injunction which froze the development.
The appellant appealed an enforcement notice served by WDC.
The inquiry lasted for 2 weeks. It was a recovered decision due to the nature of the development which had been characterised as significant development in the Green Belt.
It was an interesting inquiry where the cross examination of the occupiers of the site proved central to the case. The Secretary of State concluded that “untruths have clearly been told to WDC, and the appellants concede that some of the evidence given, both to [their own highway expert] and at the Inquiry, has at best been evasive and profoundly unreliable. This must raise some concern about the reliability of other evidence of personal circumstances presented”.
The Secretary of State accepted the Inspector’s recommendation that the two related appeals be dismissed in full (subject to a minor tweaking of the wording of the enforcement notice).
The Secretary of State noted that the 12 month compliance period offered by WDC was generous and “given the speed of the development works, the 12 months compliance period is more than adequate to physically carry out the notice’s requirements”.
For practitioners in this area, this is an interesting case which ventilated almost all of the issues one could expect to encounter at such an inquiry. It illustrates the difficulty appellants face when promoting large scale gypsy sites in open countryside and Green Belt locations.