Council successful in swiftly ending traveller camp at Beckingham

Road entering Beckingham
Road entering Beckingham

An extensive process to challenge a traveller encampment at Beckingham has concluded with the land being returned to agricultural use.

In accordance with a High Court Order secured by the Council, the travellers have moved off the land, ceasing their residential use and siting of caravans, and have now removed a quantity of hardcore moved in to create hard standing.

Under these circumstances the Council has agreed a Consent Order which drops the court proceedings on the current case, but does allow for legal action to be resumed if residential use starts up again before the end of 2026. This is due to the land no longer being occupied and significant work being undertaken to revert the land back to its original state. 

Council Leader Cllr Richard Wright said the Council had vigorously defended its established planning policies and protocols, and responded to significant local concern, in taking enforcement action against the unauthorised use and pushed hard for the restoration of the status quo.

“Effectively the case is now closed, the injunction has been discharged, an unauthorised encampment removed and the breach of planning control remedied. What we have achieved for Beckingham and the wider District represents a successful validation on the rigour of the processes we have in place.

"The local community played an important role in bringing forward their proportionate responses and concerns, notably at the outset through District Ward Councillor Mary Green and Beckingham Parish Councillor Lawrence Tatton, which made a significant difference in us being able to reflect those in our decision making. It is important to recognise and thank the local community and their representatives for their patience and support throughout a long process, particularly at the start, and the manner in which the complexities and longevity of the process was understood and respected locally,” he said.

Retrospective planning permission was refused by the Council for the use of the land for 17 caravan pitches, and the Council’s decision was supported by an independent Planning Inspector following a public inquiry when she dismissed all 17 appeals on 26 September 2023.

With the decision to dismiss the appeals, the High Court Order took effect, requiring an end to the residential use and removal of the hardcore. The residential use ended within the time limits of the Order and the Council worked proactively to press for removal of hardcore, which was achieved in April.

The Council’s legal representative Jack Smyth KC commented that “the Council achieved the cessation of the unlawful residential use and the removal of all caravans/mobile homes and other structures within two months of the Inspector's decision. That is remarkably quick. I know of no other case where eviction has been successfully effected so soon after the planning merits have been determined in the Local Planning Authority's favour”.

Legal proceedings began in December 2021 after hardcore and caravans were initially sited on the land, with a High Court injunction obtained in February 2022, modified by the judge to allow for 14 caravans to be temporarily allowed, pending the outcome of a planning application.

After planning permission was refused an inquiry into that refusal decision was held in July 2023. In September that appeal was dismissed by the planning inspector and the Consent Order (the injunction) preventing use came into effect. 

Within 56 days, by November 2023, the caravans were removed, and residential use ceased. The hardcore removal was completed in April 2024 after an extension of time from January because of winter waterlogging preventing it being carried out within the allocated timescale.

With the requirements of the Consent Order of the High Court now met in full, the breach of planning control is resolved.

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