Court order for Knutsford Gypsies

David McCourt

Cheshire East Council has successfully secured a court order requiring Gypsy families to leave an unauthorised site in Pickmere, near Knutsford.

The order, which will allow the site to be restored to grassland, is subject to the outcome of a planning appeal.

Cheshire East Council argued that Gypsies moved onto land it owns and developed the site without planning permission. A second retrospective planning application in August 2012 was refused.

The refusal is now being appealed, with the decision being heard by a public inquiry starting on 25 March 2013.

Following the inquiry, the planning inspector will write a report to the secretary of state, who will then issue the final decision.

If the Council's decision to refuse the planning application is upheld, the residents must leave the site within three months.

Cllr Michael Jones, leader of Cheshire East Council, said: "Firstly, we are aware that this is an emotive issue and one that involves families with children. Naturally, we will handle this sensitively, working with those concerned.

"We have worked closely with the local parish council in light of current efforts to identify both permanent and temporary sites for Gypsies and travellers.

"We are looking for plan-led sites that are sustainable and dispel the perception that there is a free-for-all when it comes to Gypsies and travellers setting up sites in Cheshire East.

"This order sends out a clear message that Cheshire East Council will not tolerate people developing land without any concern for planning permission.

"We are blessed with beautiful countryside here in Cheshire East and our planning procures seek to protect this, not just for us, but for future generations."

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