Travellers in Hampton-in-Arden have been given a year to vacate their site after Solihull Council authorised an enforcement notice last week.
The applicant, who has been at The Pleck in Shadowbrook Lane for eight years, must remove his two static and one touring caravan and restore the site, after council planners refused to grant retrospective planning permission and authorised the notice.
Meriden MP Caroline Spelman has thrown her support behind the council’s decision while Coun Bob Sleigh (Con, Bickenhill) said it was “the first step” towards restoring the land.
“I do believe the prospect of enforcement is right,” added Coun Sleigh.
“We considered what sites we would authorise for the future, and this site was considered but we did feel that it shouldn’t be considered for a number of planning reasons.
“I have advised local residents it’s one further step but we have to be prepared for a range of legal issues.”
Mrs Spelman was quick to reassure locals that there would not be a repeat of the situation in Meriden where residents were locked in a three-year battle with a gypsy camp in Eaves Green Lane before the caravans were eventually removed from the illegal site.
“I don’t think this will see a repeat of what happened in Meriden, because the guidance has changed and councils who provide extra pitches as Solihull has, have powers to tackle unauthorised encampments,” she said.
The greenbelt site was first developed in 2005 and a retrospective application for the gypsy caravan site with hardstanding and an amenity building, was refused by Solihull Council but granted temporary permission on appeal in 2006.
This was extended by the council until June 2012 but in the meantime, a second static unit was added meaning this latest retrospective application was required to cover the whole site.
Objections had been submitted by Hampton-in-Arden Parish Council and Mrs Spelman with concerns over building in the greenbelt, having alternative sites available and highway safety.
A report to last week’s planning committee, said that while there was currently a lack of alternative traveller sites, The Pleck had not been included in the council’s Gypsy and Traveller Site Allocations DPD, which identified four preferred sites to meet its required 38 pitches for future gypsy accommodation.
It stated “the proposal does not satisfy the greenbelt policy test to justify a permanent permission” and recommended an enforcement notice be issued.