DC Casebook: In depth - Traveller status denied at farm due to lack of work connection

An inspector has upheld an enforcement notice directed against residential occupation of a coach on a Dorset farm after finding that the appellant had not led a nomadic lifestyle contributing to his livelihood.

The appellant contended that he was a new age traveller or new traveller and thus had traveller status as defined in Circular 01/2006. He did not claim to be an ethnic Gypsy but asserted that he had maintained a nomadic habit of life for many years. He explained that he had been forced to stop travelling due to an eye condition and lack of a driving licence, but argued that he remained in the prescribed definition.

The inspector reasoned that the critical question was not whether the appellant had ceased travelling either temporarily or permanently, but whether he had experienced a nomadic habit of life before arriving at the farm. The council referred to R v South Hams District Council ex parte Gibb [1995], which held that there should be a recognised link between wandering or travelling and the means whereby the person concerned made or sought a living.

The ruling emphasised that people who moved from place to place as they liked without any connection between the movement and their means of livelihood fell outside the definition of a traveller. More recent case law in Massey and Others v Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government and South Shropshire District Council [2008] reinforced this approach, the inspector noted.

He found little evidence to support the appellant's claims that he had made a living by travelling. Moving from place to place was not enough to fulfil the terms of the definition, he decided. Since the appellant did not have Gypsy or traveller status, he could not benefit from the policy regime applied to those groups. On the merits of the proposal, he found that the coach harmed the character and appearance of the Dorset area of outstanding natural beauty and was not justified by agricultural need.

DCS Number 100-064-109

Inspector Nick Freeman; Inquiry

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