Caravan site for homeless must close
Posted: 24th October 2012
A man who opened up his land as a caravan site for the homeless, claiming that their needs were not being met by the local authority, has failed to convince a High Court judge that he was wrongly refused retrospective planning permission or that enforcement notices requiring restoration of the site should be overturned.
Felix Cash said that he set up the park, comprising 22 caravans on hard-standings, to assist vulnerable homeless people considered a low priority on Wokingham Borough Council’s housing waiting list. He argued that some had been waiting for more than seven years for a place to live until he came to their aid.
He asked Judge Belinda Bucknall QC to quash a government planning inspector’s dismissal of his appeal against Wokingham Borough Council’s refusal of planning consent and to overturn enforcement notices requiring removal of caravans and associated development from Pine Ridge, Nine Mile Ride, Crowthorne, Berkshire.
Mr Cash argued that the inspector wrongly concluded that enforcement notices had been properly served on all the site’s residents and had adopted a perverse or materially flawed approach to the question of whether there had been substantial prejudice caused to some of them.
However, ruling his challenge ‘unarguable’, the judge said: ‘The inspector dealt with the issues throughout in a fair and even handed manner’. There was ‘ample evidence’ on which the inspector could conclude that no substantial prejudice had been suffered by the occupiers and that everyone on the site knew that enforcement notices had been issued.
Arguments that the inspector gave too much weight to a risk of flooding associated with the development and had adopted a flawed approach to the possibility of granting temporary planning permission were also rejected by the judge.