Owners ordered to remove illegal caravans from Smithy Fen after Council investigation

4 July 2017

Legal notices have been served on 22 plots at Smithy Fen after a Council
investigation gathered evidence to show that extra caravans had been brought on to the site and lived in illegally.

The breach of planning condition notices served yesterday (Monday 3 July) by
South Cambridgeshire District Council gave the owners 28 days to remove the unauthorised additional caravans and static homes.

The Council has confirmed that the breach of planning condition notices they
have served cannot be appealed and failure to comply will mean they can be
prosecuted.

Part of the Council’s investigation established the housing needs of the people
living on site who could become homeless due to enforcement action to remove
the illegal caravans. Council bosses have said that the needs assessments
carried out will mean appropriate support can be given to vulnerable people as
well as making sure there are no unnecessary delays in illegal caravans being
removed.

During the investigation the Council found some non-Travellers living at the
site – another breach of the planning conditions that clearly state that only Gypsies and Travellers can live in the homes that have the appropriate planning
permission.

The Council’s legal action has also given non-Travellers 28 days to leave the
site which makes sure that pitches with planning permission are protected for Gypsies and Travellers who need them.

There are 49 legal pitches at Smithy Fen and in general each one will be made
up of a static caravan, a touring caravan and a brick built day room.

Cllr Nick Wright, Deputy Leader of South Cambridgeshire District Council, said:
“Our thorough and detailed investigation at Smithy Fen has made sure we have been able to take this swift and appropriate action. We are clear that the 22 pitches we have served notices on are in breach and they have 28 days to comply. If this does not happen we will take further legal action. We find it as frustrating as local residents when there is a breach of planning in any community. However, these investigations, and legal action, are often complex and it simply isn’t possible to resolve it overnight. We must follow the correct legal process to make sure we get the right result in the end. In this case we want all caravans that should not be there removed and have served them with legal notice. The approach we are talking here is the same as we would if planning was breached by the settled community.

“It is absolutely right that we assess the housing needs of the people who
could be impacted by the legal action to make sure anyone who is vulnerable or
have young children are given the support they need. This work will also
demonstrate to a court in the future that we have taken all the necessary steps
if some people choose not to comply.

“It is too early to say what action we will take next, but I can reassure
people that we will continue to act as quickly as the legal system will allow.
The illegal caravans must be removed.”