Council clears unauthorised Gypsy and Traveller site on green belt land

On 9 January 2023, Buckinghamshire Council cleared an unauthorised Gypsy and Traveller site on land known as Area 2, land adjacent to Alderbourne Cottage, Fulmer Lane, Fulmer, SL9 7BL.
The site, which has been divided into two areas, has a long planning and enforcement history.

It is highly constrained due to its location within the Metropolitan Green Belt and Colne Valley Park, a designated Biodiversity Opportunity Area, which is a part of an area of natural woodland covered by a Tree Preservation order and within the setting of a Grade II Listed Building.

The previous history of the site includes a 2013 refusal of planning permission and a subsequent planning appeal. This appeal was heard at a public Inquiry in 2013, called in by the Secretary of State, and subsequently dismissed in 2014.

The council issued Planning Enforcement Notices in 2015 with further appeals being dismissed following a Public Inquiry in 2017.

Despite the Enforcement Appeals being dismissed, the pitches were not vacated. Further council action included a High Court Injunction to secure the cessation of the unauthorised use and the removal of mobile homes, utility building, hardstanding fencing etc, and the restoration of the site. By December 2021, Area 2 had been vacated but the site had not been cleared.

On 9 January, council contractors entered the land to undertake the works required by the enforcement notice. This included the removal of caravans, utility building, ripping up hardstanding, re-profiling the site closure of the access and the reinstatement of a hedgerow along the front boundary.

The costs incurred by the council are in the region of £66,000 and the council will recover those costs from the owner of the land.

Peter Strachan, Buckinghamshire Council’s Cabinet Member for Planning and Regeneration, said:
“Despite previous attempts to resolve the issue through planning appeals and enforcement notices, the site remained in violation. This resulted in us having to take direct action to clear the site to uphold regulations and protect the area. We will not hesitate to take further action and recover costs to ensure the protection of our communities and the environment.”