Gypsies move in on Essex village

VILLAGERS may have to 'kiss goodbye' to green belt land after gypsies moved in under the cover of darkness on the outskirts of Little Hallingbury over the weekend. On Saturday night, nine large white caravans moved in on a private plot of land next to the

VILLAGERS may have to "kiss goodbye" to green belt land after gypsies moved in under the cover of darkness on the outskirts of Little Hallingbury over the weekend.

On Saturday night, nine large white caravans moved in on a private plot of land next to the M11 motorway. The following day the owners immediately started constructing fences and laying down gravel and tarmac.

The events prompted a flood of phone calls and complaints into the local planning authority, Uttlesford District Council (UDC).

In a swift response, the council's enforcement team obtained an injunction on Tuesday afternoon to forbid the gypsies from using the site for caravans and vehicles unless they get planning permission.


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Little Hallingbury's district councillor, Lesley Wells, said that if the gypsies were allowed to stay it could spell the end for the village's green belt.

She said: "It is an unlawful settlement and could set a dangerous precedent. Planning laws are made for everyone to abide by. I know plenty of homeowners who have had extensions turned down because they are on the same type of land.

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"The travellers have set up on an inappropriate site and if allowed to stay it could open the floodgates for more development on green belt land. We could end up kissing it goodbye."

However, upon visiting the site there looks to be no plans for the gypsies to move on anytime soon. One inhabitant who claimed to be a contractor told the Broadcast: "This is private land and the travellers have already asked for permission to live here. At the moment it is just a load of caravans - the families will be moving in at the beginning of next week."

The gypsies can appeal against the injunction and submit a planning application for the set up of the site - but it is unlikely to be accepted due to laws governing green belt land.

UDC has already served an enforcement notice on the gypsies and the owner of the land. A hearing date for a further injunction - and a chance for the defendants to put their case forward - is on November 2 at Harlow County Court.

A UDC spokesman said: "As soon as the council became aware of the site, a high priority was attached to addressing the situation.

"It is positioned on green belt, where there is a general presumption against inappropriate development - including new gypsy and traveller sites.

"No application has been made for a gypsy and traveller site on this land and residents can be assured that everything possible is being done to ensure the expedient control of this situation and that every available legal means will be used to find a solution."

WHAT DO YOU THINK? E-mail us ate editor@dunmow-broadcast.co.uk or call us on 01799 512882.

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