DC Casebook: Gypsies and travellers - Lifestyle ruling allows permanent siting

An inspector has granted permission for the change of use of land in Surrey to a Gypsy site after remarking that the local authority had failed to understand the appellant's way of life.

The appellant sought permission for two caravans to house two families within the curtilage of a dwelling. The site lay within 4km of the Thames Basin Heaths special protection area (SPA) and the council argued that allowing people to reside on the land would undermine nature conservation interests. The families might grow in size and add to potential harm to the SPA, it maintained.

The inspector heard that the two caravans would be occupied by the appellant's children who had occupied the land, albeit without permission, since before the SPA's designation in 2005. No increase in the number of households would result, he observed. The planning system should not prevent households living around the protected area from increasing in size, he ruled.

The need for permanent mobile homes during the winter months was not inconsistent with the fact that the occupants often travelled for work and social reasons in the summer, he commented. In his view, the council's suggestion that non-static caravans would reduce the impact on the SPA by encouraging the families to travel more frequently misunderstood their traditional way of life, which involved both travelling and a permanent site.

DCS Number 100-064-388

Inspector Gerry Hollington; Inquiry

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