Travellers say no to south Norfolk move

Travellers living on an illegal site in south Norfolk yesterday said they had no interest in moving to another site 500 yards away.

Travellers living on an illegal site in south Norfolk yesterday said they had no interest in moving to another site 500 yards away.

The five families have been living on the site at Middle Road in Denton for more than three years, and are hoping to move to Rushall Road in Harleston. They have already got permission for the Harleston site - but the council is now reconsidering its decision after a change in highways advice, and also needs to decide whether to let the gipsies use the land, which it owns.

Now landowner Chris Elliott says he wants to let the travellers live on Grove Farm, a redundant hatcheries on Middle Road - an offer which has delighted the Save Harleston Group, set up to oppose the families' move to Harleston.

But Lisa Smith, one of the Denton gipsies and the person who applied for permission to move to the Harleston site, said they were not interested in Mr Elliott's offer.

She said: “We are not interested in any way whatsoever. There is nothing in it for us.

“We would have to go through exactly the same thing there that we have had here. We want to go to Harleston or stay here.”

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Although South Norfolk Council's decision to evict them was upheld by the High Court, the council has no firm plans to do so at present. An appeal against the council's refusal of a three-year planning permission will be heard at a public inquiry next year. The inquiry was due to take place in January but is now likely to be in the spring.

Mrs Smith added: “We are disappointed with Harleston and the way that is going on. We were hoping we didn't need the planning inquiry to be honest, but now we have got to go through with things. The last thing we want is to be back on the road again.”

Yesterday, Mr Elliott met South Norfolk Council's development control services manager Paul Whitham and housing renewal manager Tony Cooke at Grove Farm to discuss the plans.

The officers queried whether the six proposed pitches would be big enough but did not otherwise indicate whether the site would be suitable.

Mr Whitham said he needed to look at the paperwork before coming to a considered judgment.

“It is difficult to give snap opinions,” he said.

Mr Elliott, who lives in Bungay, said the site would be available to any gipsies - not just those in Denton - and that he had not asked the Denton families whether they wanted the site.

“I know most of them personally. I haven't actually approached them and said do you want to come here. I don't want to get their hopes up if it is not actually going to happen.”

He says that if council officers give a favourable view of his plans, he will submit an application within the next couple of weeks. Otherwise he will abandon the idea.

Neighbours in Denton were reluctant to comment yesterday.