Newark: Six Traveller families who want to be allowed to stay on their land off A46 at Winthorpe to go to High Court next month
Six Traveller families who just want to be allowed to stay where they have settled will go to the High Court in October to make their case.
More than 700 people have signed a petition backing the families’ bid to stay on the site they own off the A46 at Winthorpe.
They have lived there without planning permission for more than 2½ years.
Their planning application was rejected by Newark and Sherwood District Council and the Secretary of State so they are now taking their appeal to the High Court.
The families claim the council is trying to force them on to the Traveller site at Tolney Lane in Newark, or return to live at the roadside.
They said it was discrimination that all Travellers should be made to live in the same location, something no other section of society would have imposed on them.
The council said it took its equalities requirements extremely seriously and wanted to see the accommodation needs of Travellers and Gypsies met in a culturally and environmentally appropriate way.
Gemma Lamb, who lives on the site with her husband and two children, said there was a need for more Traveller pitches in the area.
She said: “We don’t want to be pushed down Tolney Lane.
“They told us the site we are on is a flood risk but when the floods were very bad in February, we had a puddle. Other sites were completely under water.
“They just don’t want us here.”
The immaculately-kept site is owned by six families — the Bowers, Dolans, Englands, Smiths, Mounseys and Lambs — who have travelled together all their lives, but have always called Newark home.
They say they will do whatever it takes to get planning permission.
Charlotte Smith, who lives with her husband and four children next to Gemma, launched the petition when prompted by a friend to not keep the situation a secret any longer.
“We will do whatever the council asks to get planning permission,” said Charlotte.
“Like new housing estates, they put things in place. If they council is saying the A1 is too noisy, we will put up acoustic barrier fence.
“We have even asked to pay council tax because we want our bins collected, but they say it isn’t allowed.
“We respect our land and home but everyone gets painted with the same brush. There is good and bad in every walk of life. We want to be accepted.
“Our future for our children — it’s in the hands of the council.”
Angel Mounsey, 12, said: “It is open and free here and we think more safe, rather than near houses where there are lots of roads. It’s just friendly here.
“Everyone needs a home and this is our home.”
Roger Blaney, chairman of the council’s planning committee, said the families were challenging the decision of the Secretary of State so the authority was not involved in the court proceedings.
He said: “If the High Court challenge fails there will be a need for the families to vacate the site within a prescribed period.
“Newark and Sherwood District Council does not encourage roadside occupation and where this does occur we will work, alongside partner organisations, with those families involved to encourage and support relocation elsewhere.
“The council is supportive of appropriate sites for Gypsy and Traveller occupation. The council is open to the allocation of, and granting planning permission on, land which is appropriate.
“In making the decisions in this case both the council and the Planning Inspectorate did consider a temporary planning permission, especially given the fully acknowledged lack of a five-year land supply and the individual circumstances of the applicants.
“Despite this, both the council and the Planning Inspectorate, acting on behalf of the Secretary of State, concluded that the concerns from flood risk and the site being in an open break designation (which means development is restricted and in many cases prohibited to stop the merging, over the passage of time of Newark with its surrounding settlements) were so severe as to not outweigh these circumstances.”