Half of Smithy Fen pitches already back within planning rules following Council action

18 August 2017

11 of 22 pitches at a Cottenham Travellers’ site, that were in breach of their planning permission, are now complying with their conditions again.

In July, South Cambridgeshire District Council issued breach of planning condition legal notices to landlords and occupants of the pitches at Smithy Fen.

This was due to the presence of excess caravans or static homes, or pitches being rented to a non-Traveller.

This was another breach of the planning conditions that clearly state that only Gypsies and Travellers can live in the homes there.

The legal notices issued gave 28 days for each of these pitches to be brought back into line with planning rules.

The day after this period expired, the Council confirmed it was going to prosecute landlords or tenants, who own or live on pitches that remained in breach, and who were not talking or working with Officers.

Now, the Council has established that half of the pitches that were in breach of planning rules in July have now been returned to their permitted states.

This is generally one static caravan and a touring caravan for each of the 49 legal pitches at Smithy Fen.

Furthermore, 34 of the 56 occupants that Council officers identified as living on the affected pitches have now left the site.

Prosecution files are being prepared against several landlords and tenants of sites that remain in breach of planning permission, and who are not engaging with the Council.

Cllr Nick Wright, Deputy Leader of South Cambridgeshire District Council, said: “It is good news that Council intervention has led to half of the pitches in breach of planning rules being brought back in line with their conditions.

“It is frustrating for most of our law-abiding residents that we were forced to take this action in the first place.

“It is also re-assuring that well over half of the people who were living on these 22 pitches – many of whom didn’t realise they had signed up to live in a home that did not have the correct permissions – have now moved on.

“However, we are continuing to pursue legal action against landlords and tenants who have ignored our breach of planning condition legal notices, and not engaged with our officers.

"We will pursue all legal avenues that are necessary until the situation is fully resolved.”

Cllr Lynda Harford, the Council’s Cabinet Member for Housing, said: “We offered help and support to all those affected in the first instance, and are now working with families we have identified as vulnerable.

“Our Officers are working hard to give the appropriate support and guidance.”