Denton travellers' eviction: fresh delay

Plans to evict a group of travellers from a site they have lived on illegally for nearly four years have had to be abandoned again.South Norfolk Council is now set for a second high court battle over its long-running attempts to enforce planning refusals.

Plans to evict a group of travellers from a site they have lived on illegally for nearly four years have had to be abandoned again.

South Norfolk Council is now set for a second high court battle over its long-running attempts to enforce planning refusals. The legal move comes just as the council was preparing to evict the five families from Middle Road in Denton, near Harleston. They had been given a deadline of tomorrow to get out.

One of the gipsies, Lisa Smith, has applied for permission for a judicial review of the council's decision to evict them.

The council is fighting the request and has asked for a high court hearing to decide the issue rather than a decision based on the paperwork. It is not yet known how the matter will be decided, but if Mrs Smith wins permission then a full high court hearing will follow to discuss the council's actions.

It is not the first time this has happened. Last year a two-day hearing upheld the council's decisions.

Several applications for permanent and temporary planning permission for a travellers' site have already been turned down by the council and a public inquiry. The gipsies are appealing the latest refusal of three-year planning permission, and a three-day planning inquiry is expected some time between late June and early August.

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The application for permission for a judicial review argues that the council's February decision to take direct action - in other words, eviction - is invalid and that the council should have waited for the outcome of the planning appeal.

Council solicitor Stuart Shortman said: “They are intending to apply for permission to go for judicial review. The council will be defending the application, as previously.

“The first question is whether they get permission granted by the court to proceed. We will be resisting that as far as we can. The grounds for being allowed to proceed is not will they definitely win a full hearing, it is only whether they have an arguable case.

“We won't be going ahead with the direct action while the application for permission is being considered. That is the normal procedure. If the application for permission is not granted then the decisions that have already been made will still apply and it will go ahead.”

The gipsies arrived on the former water meadows on Middle Road in October 2003. Although they do not have planning permission they do own the land.

The Denton gipsies were not on the Middle Road site yesterday and could not be contacted by the EDP.

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