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    Gypsies lose latest round in Green Belt battle

    A group of 200 travellers and Gypsies occupying caravans illegally encamped on a Green Belt site at Billericay, Essex, have lost their appeal against refusal of retrospective planning permission.

    Consent to station caravans on some 40 plots at Crays Hill, on land next to a legal site which is home to 500 travellers, had been refused by the local planning authority, Basildon District Council.

    Communities Secretary Ruth Kelly, acting on the advice of a planning inspector who held an inquiry last August, has turned down the appeals.

    In her decision letter the minister said the stationing of caravans on the land at Crays Hill constituted “inappropriate development in the Green Belt”. She said there were also highway safety concerns and argued that a temporary time-limited permission would be inappropriate under the circumstances.

    Councillor Malcolm Buckley, leader of Basildon council, said: “This decision vindicates the council’s action in trying to uphold planning law and protect the Green Belt.”

    Meanwhile the travellers and Gypsies have a judicial review pending into an earlier bid by the council to evict the families and have their caravans removed. That case is not scheduled to be heard until November.

    Planning Portal News 1.3.07