Gypsy matriarch loses planning battle

Posted: 13th February 2013

caravansA gypsy matriarch who has fought every inch of the way for the right to settle on a plot of agricultural land in Somerset has finally had her case dismissed by the Court of Appeal. The court rejected her pleas that a government planning inspector had failed to have adequate regard to the paucity of official gypsy sites in the area.

Kathleen O'Connor, who owns the relevant land in the village of Queen Charlton, challenged the local authority’s refusal to grant her planning permission to live there with her extended family, including her four adult children, before a government planning inspector and at the High Court but each time without success.

The inspector had said that harmful green belt development could only be permitted in ‘very special circumstances’. However, on appeal, Mrs O’Connor’s lawyers argued that the inspector should have given greater weight to the number of travelling families resorting to the area and the relative lack of official gypsy sites.

Dismissing her appeal, the court ruled that it was unrealistic to think that the inspector had failed to give substantial weight to the issue of unmet need for gypsy sites and to the impact of a refusal of planning permission on the personal circumstances of Mrs O’Connor and her family.