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Council nets emergency injunction over threat to give land for unauthorised gypsy site

A district council has obtained an emergency planning injunction against a landowner who threatened to give land away for an unauthorised gypsy site in a bid to “ruin the village”.

Linda Tate (also known as Linda Watson) had been unsuccessful in her attempt to live on the land in the village of Kirtling, near Newmarket, and operate a stable business there.

In response to the approach taken by East Cambridgeshire District Council and a lack of support from local villagers, she threatened to emigrate and give the land to gypsies to "ruin the village". These threats were not only made to council officers, but also to the local and national press.

If an unauthorised gypsy site were to be established on the land, this would have constituted a significant breach of planning control. The land is currently only able to be used for equine purposes.

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Jack Smyth of No 5 Chambers was instructed by East Cambridgeshire to seek an ex parte injunction against Tate to prevent the anticipated breach of planning control.

The matter was brought to the High Court sitting in Birmingham at short notice on 12 September 2017.

The judge granted the injunction on the basis that it was just and proportionate to afford protection to the land given the threats made by Tate.

The injunction, which was served on Tate on 14 September, means that the erection or siting of any additional buildings, siting of caravans/mobile homes, laying hardstanding/piping or excavating/importing material would be a criminal offence.

Jo Brooks, Director of Operations for East Cambridgeshire, said: “We have worked hard to challenge the reputation the sector has for hindering rather than helping people with applications for development. In our District there is no barrier to building for people who follow the rules and comply with planning policy. We are proud of being a facilitator for growth and will continue to be so.

“However, our firm but fair policy means that we will take swift action against people who do not follow due process. Those who flout regulations or fail to follow the rules and planning policy are not treated leniently. After all, we have a duty to enforce where it is considered reasonable and proportionate and uphold national planning regulations and guidance.”

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