Judge orders eviction to be cancelled

A long-running planning saga involving a Norfolk gipsy site took another turn last night, after a judge ruled that eviction proceedings should be cancelled.

A long-running planning saga involving a Norfolk gipsy site took another turn last night, after a judge ruled that eviction proceedings should be cancelled.

Travellers living at Middle Lane, Denton, near Bungay, have been refused permission to stay at the site on three occasions.

But the court decision means that despite scheduling an eviction, expected to cost up to £150,000, for Monday, South Norfolk Council will now have to wait for a judicial review to examine the case for letting the group stay.

Stuart Shortman, the council's solicitor, said: "We can confirm that we have received the order of Mr Justice Forbes granting leave for judicial review to proceed and also granting a temporary stay of enforcement action in the meantime.

"There was no oral hearing held and we do not yet know the circumstances of, or reasons for, the decision."

The travellers have been granted legal aid and are being helped by lawyers who specialise in traveller issues and housing law.

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The judge's decision is the latest development in a running saga over the water meadow site, which has been occupied since October 2003 when families arrived with around 15 caravans.

A planning committee and subsequent public inquiry, which heard complaints about noise and vehicle movements as well as loss of trees and wildlife, turned down a retrospective planning application.

But the site has also been held up as an example of a tidy, well-kept site which shows that long- term traveller sites need not be a problem to the community

Since then, a request for three-year permission has also been refused, although planning agent Philip Brown has now submitted an appeal.

The travellers' legal team believes there is a strong case for letting the families keep their caravans at Middle Lane because of a recent change in guidelines on gipsy sites.