Public inquiry delayed months

FLASHBACK: Central Beds Council removing hardstanding from the disputed traveller's site on Mile Tree Road

FLASHBACK: Central Beds Council removing hardstanding from the disputed traveller's site on Mile Tree Road

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The public inquiry over a four-and-a-half year battle to stop travellers living on a green belt site on the outskirts of Leighton Buzzard has been adjourned.

Central Beds Council has fought tooth and nail to block the development at Mile Tree Road on the edge of Heath and Reach, which it believes will set a dangerous precedent.

When the owner of the land, a traveller called Michael Kieley, applied for retrospective planning permission for six pitches and hardstandings it was rejected.

The council spent £10,000 on legal costs, £100,000 on security to prevent occupation of the land, plus a further £10,000 re-instating the site.

After being debated at a previous inquiry and in the High Court, the matter has reverted to a new public inquiry for four days in April under the remit of a local inspector at the council’s Chicksands offices. On the morning of first day of the hearing (April 19) the inspector was informed the number of pitches had been reduced from 6 to 5. Now the hearing has been rescheduled to start on September 13.

A CBC spokesman said: “Mr Kieley hasn’t realised that he needed to get a mineral assessment for the site, which is needed for the hearing.

“And as the council is currently assessing all gypsy and traveller accommodation, the inspector decided that it would be wise to adjourn the hearing until September when the results of both of those are available and everyone will be better informed.”