CASEBOOK: Appeal cases - Gypsies and travellers - Circus family wins personal circumstances plea

An enforcement notice directed against the use of a paddock in West Sussex for stationing caravans and equipment associated with a family of circus performers has been quashed due to the personal circumstances of the appellant.

The site contained three caravans in which the appellant and three members of his family lived. It also contained collapsible stabling for more than 20 miniature horses, horseboxes and trailers. The appellant explained that the family did not travel in the same way as travelling showmen or Gypsies. However, they did perform at circuses as well as at schools, social functions, theatres and theme parks.

The appellant also claimed that he had been diagnosed with a permanent and potentially life-threatening respiratory disorder that required regular specialist treatment and supervision. Such assistance could only be found in the main London hospitals and accordingly it was necessary to live within reasonable travelling distance of the capital, he maintained.

The inspector, weighing the countryside harm against these personal circumstances, decided that the chances of the family finding an alternative site that complied fully with development plan policies were negligible. He endorsed the council's suggestion that sharing a farmyard and agricultural buildings would be preferable but judged that this might not be practical or financially viable. He concluded that a personal permission was justified subject to conditions requiring submission of a planning application for site layout and landscaping.

DCS No: 30979839; Inspector: John Roberts; Hearing.

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