Readers will recall that in the case of R(Moore & Coates) –v- Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government Mr Justice Gilbart had quashed the decisions of the Secretary of State, Mr Pickles, to recover these Green Belt Gypsy and Traveller planning appeals. Gilbart J found the process of recovery to be discriminatory and unlawful.
It was estimated that some 100 other cases had been affected by this unlawful recovery process and Gilbart J, in his judgment, indicated that he hoped that the Government would review all these cases. In response to a question about the review of recovery decisions by Lord Avebury, on 26th March 2015, Lord Ahmad of Wimbledon, a Minister in the Department for Communities and Local Government stated as follows:-
This Government continues to attach great importance to safeguarding the Green Belt. It will address concerns about the harm caused when there is unauthorised development of land in advance of obtaining planning permission and there is no opportunity to appropriately limit or mitigate the harm that has already taken place. For these reasons, the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government will introduce a new planning and recovery policy for the Green Belt early in the new Parliament to strengthen protection against unauthorised development. This new policy will apply to all development within the Green Belt. In the meantime he has also decided to de-recover those cases of appeals for traveller development in the Green Belt on which a substantive decision has not been reached. These will be remitted back to the Planning Inspectorate and, where appropriate, we will re-assess them in light of the new recovery policy.
Once again the Government seem happy to ride roughshod over court judgments.
It is important that those Gypsies and Travellers whose cases were recovered after the first Written Ministerial Statement was issued on 1 July 2013 and who have had refusals of permission from Mr Pickles where Mr Pickles has not followed the recommendation of the Planning Inspector, should continue with their challenge to the recovery process or, if they have not yet challenged that process, should seriously consider doing so.
Due to the ambiguity in the final reply from Lord Ahmad, those Gypsies and Travellers whose cases have been recovered but have not yet been decided should press for confirmation that the decision in their case will be taken by a Planning Inspector and not by the Secretary of State.
We would encourage people who have queries about any of the above to contact us on our advice line on 0121 685 8677.
We attach the standard letter that has been sent out to those whose cases have not yet been decided.
There have been conflicting interim court decisions as to whether those Gypsies and Travellers who are now too late to challenge their final appeal decision can still challenge the original decision to recover.
Watch this space!!