Decision due on Crowthorne caravan site
July 24, 2012
A man who opened his land in Crowthorne as a caravan site for the homeless is awaiting the outcome of a High Court challenge to the council’s efforts to close the site down.
Felix Cash asked the court to quash a Government planning inspector’s decision to dismiss his earlier appeal against Wokingham Borough Council’s decision to refuse planning permission for the mobile home park in Pine Ridge, Nine Mile Ride, Crowthorne.
The council also issued an enforcement notice in respect of the site. Deputy Judge Belinda Bucknall QC has reserved judgment and will give her decision in writing.
Mr Cash says he set up the park with 22 caravans to house vulnerable homeless people considered a low priority on the council’s housing list.
The council decided the park was a breach of planning control and issued the enforcement notices demanding he remove the caravans, hardstanding, utilities and a fence.
Mr Cash appealed against the decision, but that was refused by a Government planning inspector in April 2011.
Now he has asked the judge to quash that decision and order the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government, to have the matter reconsidered.
He claims the notice demanding removal of the mobile homes was not properly served on all residents at the site, and the inspector was wrong to speculate that those who did not give evidence at a public inquiry knew about the appeal.
He argues the inspector wrongly concluded the notice was properly served and adopted a perverse or materially flawed approach to the question of whether there has been substantial prejudice caused to some of the residents, who he says are at risk of being deprived of their homes without warning.
Mr Cash claims the inspector put too much emphasis on the possible harm arising from flood risk on the site, and that little or no weight should have been given to it because he and the council agreed the flood risk could be managed.
He also alleges the inspector had a flawed approach to the possibility of granting a temporary planning permission to avoid vulnerable residents being made homeless.
Mr Cash argues a three or four-year temporary permission would be long enough for the council to make additional affordable housing stock available to meet the residents’ needs.
Lawyers for the Government argue the inspector was entitled to reach the conclusions he did on the evidence before him, and gave adequate reasons.