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Last Updated: Friday, 21 May, 2004, 15:59 GMT 16:59 UK
Court blocks migrant village plan
Brierley caravan site, near Leominster, Herefordshire
Work at the site began without planning permission
A company has lost a High Court battle to provide a purpose-built village for up to 1,000 migrant fruit pickers.

Herefordshire Council recently denied S&A Produce planning permission for the project, at Brierley, near Leominster, despite work being well under way.

The authority last week won a temporary order to stop further work at the site, and on Friday succeeded in getting that injunction extended.

But Mr Justice Roderick Evans said S&A "could well be successful" on appeal.

'Blight on landscape'

He extended the injunction ahead of a full hearing when the council will apply for the total removal of building works already under way at the 200-acre former hop farm.

The authority rejected the scheme on 12 May against the advice of its own planners.

In order to maximise profit (S&A) have indulged in what can only be described as a flagrant, determined and cynical breach of the planning procedures
Mr Justice Roderick Evans
The completed complex would feature hundreds of caravans, a cinema, an internet café, swimming pool and doctor's surgery, all for use by about 1,000 strawberry pickers.

S&A's plans aroused widespread objection from some local residents including celebrity gardener Monty Don, who said the finished project would be a "blight on the landscape".

In the High Court on Friday. Timothy Jones, for the council, told the judge that S&A had deliberately "jumped the gun".

He said the firm had started work without planning permission when it knew that such permission was required.

Situation 'not static'

"It is also plain - and not disputed - that it is part of a group of companies that has a history of defying planning law," he said.

Granting the order, the judge said it was not for him to decide on the merits or otherwise "of this proposed and to a large extent already constructed development".

"It may well be that on appeal this development may be successful - this is not a static situation.

"Looking at this case, I am satisfied on the information before me that the defendant's conduct has been driven by financial considerations and, in order to maximise profit, they have indulged in what can only be described as a flagrant, determined and cynical breach of the planning procedures.

"It appears that they have been successful in this regard in the past and they frankly say they expect to be successful in this case also."

Migrant village battle reignites
15 May 04  |  Hereford/Worcs
Migrant village plan is rejected
12 May 04  |  Hereford/Worcs
Migrant village decision expected
12 May 04  |  Hereford/Worcs
Migrants' village scheme on hold
20 Apr 04  |  Hereford/Worcs
Work starts on migrants' village
15 Apr 04  |  Hereford/Worcs
Talks over migrant village plan
12 Mar 04  |  Hereford/Worcs
Village for migrant farm workers
20 Feb 04  |  Hereford/Worcs

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