Welwyn gypsy site must go, Eric Pickles rules

PUBLISHED: 16:41 17 April 2013 | UPDATED: 16:41 17 April 2013

Eric Pickles

Eric Pickles


A LONG-RUNNING row over a Green Belt ‘gypsy site’ in Welwyn has been settled by Secretary of State Eric Pickles after a planning inquiry.

The site, on land adjacent to 17 The Avenue must close, Mr Pickles has ruled.

An appeal was launched against a ruling by Welwyn Hatfield Council which refused permission for the retention of a ‘gypsy site’ with five residential caravans, five utility blocks with associated parking and hard-standing, on January 11 last year.

The inquiry, heard by Planning Inspector Nicholas Freeman, followed an appeal against the decision, and against two enforcement notices served by the council to remove the caravans from the Green Belt land.

Last year Welwyn Hatfield Council heard the controversial case involved allegations that traveller Larry Rooney had invoked the brutal treatment of Roma gypsies during the Holocaust in a plea to allow the site to remain.

The council ruled this was used as justification to “flout council planning laws”.

But their protestations cut no ice with the Secretary of State.

In reaching the decision it was noted: “The Secretary of State agrees with the Inspector that the appeal proposals have caused, and would continue to cause, significant harm to the openness of the Green Belt and the purpose of safeguarding the countryside from encroachment, as well as resulting in substantial harm to the Green Belt by reason of inappropriateness.”

It was ruled that “the appeal be dismissed and planning permission refused”.

The decision means that the caravans must now be removed within 12 months.

After the ruling a spokeswoman from Welwyn Hatfield Council said simply: “We are pleased with the decision.”

The outcome was deemed to be final unless a High Court legal challenge is launched.

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