Gypsy couple ordered to leave site near airport after appeal loss

Thomas Bibby and his wife at their site on Holt Road, near Norwich Airport. Photo: Archant

Thomas Bibby and his wife at their site on Holt Road, near Norwich Airport. Photo: Archant - Credit: Archant

A couple living in a static caravan close to Norwich Airport learned they had lost a bid to stay in their home on the same day they welcomed their first child into the world.

Thomas and Sasha Bibby have been living on a plot off Holt Road in Hellesdon for more than two years, but enforcement action from Norwich City Council saw them ordered to vacate the land and find a new home.

The couple appealed the decision and their fate was left in the hands of a planning inspector, who could have granted them planning permission to stay.

However instead the inspector ruled in the favour of the council, giving Mr and Mrs Bibby 12 months to find alternative accommodation.

And in a cruel twist of fate, the Romany Gypsy couple learned of the decision - made 24 hours prior - on the day of the birth of their first son Tommy, who was born at 12.05am on January 22.

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Mr Bibby said: "I was on top of the world until I found out. Tommy was born on Wednesday morning and both mother and baby are well.

"I'm struggling to understand the decision and am going to fight tooth and nail to be able to stay where I am, even if I have to take it all the way to the High Court."

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Mr Bibby added: "It does not matter whether it is the High Court or if I have to be dragged off by my heels.

"If the council can find me somewhere to live in the middle of nowhere with my animals where I am not bothered for being a Gypsy then we will gladly take it. I don't want to have to give up the animals though and do not see why I should, even if somewhere can be found for me, my wife and the baby."

The couple currently keep 15 animals with them on the site, including dogs, horses and chickens.

Mr Bibby disputed that a site visit had been carried out by an inspector, however a spokesman for the Planning Inspectorate said: "A site visit was made on January 20. The visit was unaccompanied and therefore it may be the appellant was unaware."

In his decision, inspector Thomas Shields wrote that the council's evidence of a planning breach was "undisputed".

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