Select Committee on Environment, Transport and Regional Affairs Appendices to the Minutes of Evidence

Memorandum by the London Borough of Bromley (TF 65)

  I refer to your letter dated 22 March 2000 and in particular to the reference to Keston Showmans Park in the submissions by Mrs J Montgomery.

  The site referred to has been unlawfully occupied by travelling showpeople since December 1996. Enforcement notices have been upheld on appeal on several occasions, most recently in June 1999. An earlier appeal against the refusal of planning permission for the use of the land as permanent headquarters for showmen was also dismissed by the Secretary of State in March 1999.

  The site is subject to a current planning application and additional evidence submitted by the applicant's agent is being assessed with a view to reporting to the Council's Development Control Committee. At this stage, the recommendation on the latest application has not been formulated.

  The adopted Bromley UDP does not contain a policy relating to the provision of sites for travelling showmen. The UDP is currently under review and the deposit draft may include a new policy on gypsies and travelling showpeople. The absence of a policy in the existing UDP is because of the significant existing provision of pitches for travelling showmen which means that the Council already complies with the advice in Circular 22/91.

  In 1997, the Council resolved to take no further action on another showmen's site in King Henry's Drive, approximately 150 metres west of the Keston Showmen's site. This is a long established site adjoining the built up area of New Addington. The site is screened, less prominent and better related to existing development than the Keston site.

  The Council considers that the existing site at King Henry's Drive meets the local authority needs for sites for travelling showmen in the local area and meets the relevant requirements of Circular 22/91, (para. 7). Moreover the council is concerned that other authorities in South East England may not be making a similar provision within their areas.

  The Council in resisting further provision has been satisfied that insufficient justification has been put forward to override the strong presumption against inappropriate development in the Green Belt. In particular the appellants have not explained why the existing spare capacity of the lawful site has not been used. The two sites are very close to each other being on opposite sides of Layhams Road. The Secretary of State concluded that the use of the site by showpeople was in conflict with the openness of the Green Belt and in particular with the objectives concerning prevention of urban sprawl and safeguarding the countryside from encroachment.

Bob McQuillan

Head of Development Control

March 2000

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