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Last Updated: Thursday, 16 December, 2004, 06:31 GMT
High Court site ruling welcomed
Cottenham travellers' site
The family will stay on the site until the outcome of a new inquiry
Community leaders have welcomed a High Court ruling that a decision to allow travellers to stay on an unauthorised village site should be reconsidered.

On Wednesday Mr Justice Forbes criticised the decision to allow a travelling family to stay at Smithy Fen in Cottenham, Cambridgeshire.

A planning inspector overturned a South Cambridgeshire District Council enforcement notice in February.

The judge has ordered John Prescott's department to reconsider the case.

The controversial Smithy Fen site has been a source of conflict as villagers complained of being overrun by new arrivals, many setting up camp on unauthorised pitches.

We want them to find a lawful, alternative pitch where they can live out their days in peace
Cottenham Residents' Association chairman Rick Bristow

Cottenham Residents' Association chairman Rick Bristow said: "It's nice to know the law can be upheld.

"Our view is that we don't like the idea of eviction. We want them to find a lawful, alternative pitch where they can live out their days in peace."

Terry Brownbill, a spokesman for villagers, added: "I hope John Prescott takes note and does something about this.

"It's not just happening in Cottenham, it's everywhere in the country. Planning inspectors don't have the knowledge to step outside their planning remit."

Planning inspector Clive Woodhouse ruled that, as the travellers' caravans were in the corner of an area of authorised sites, they were not unacceptable.

New planning inquiry

In the High Court Mr Justice Forbes said the overturning of the council order by Mr Woodhouse had been wrong in law.

Mr Justice Forbes also quashed the inspector's decision to allow retrospective permission for caravans used by Patrick McCarthy, 68, his wife and their 18-year-old grandson, Daniel O'Rourke.

A spokesman for South Cambridgeshire District Council said a new planning inquiry would be held in about a year to reconsider the case again from scratch.

The McCarthy family will remain on the site pending a new planning inquiry.

Site decision called 'perverse'
15 Dec 04 |  Cambridgeshire
Travellers win High Court backing
08 Nov 04 |  Cambridgeshire
Travellers still fight eviction
27 Oct 04 |  Cambridgeshire
Deadline up for travellers' move
24 Oct 04 |  Cambridgeshire


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