Site-row villagers target plan chief

PUBLISHED: 12:25 28 September 2006 | UPDATED: 12:02 04 May 2010

ANGRY Little Downham villagers have lodged a vote of no confidence in council planning chief David Archer in their battle over a travellers site. They are furious after they claim planners failed to enforce conditions imposed on planning permission grant

ANGRY Little Downham villagers have lodged a vote of no confidence in council planning chief David Archer in their battle over a travellers' site.

They are furious after they claim planners failed to enforce conditions imposed on planning permission granted to traveller David Boswell for his former agricultural land in Third Drove.

Now villagers fear the "lack of action" from East Cambridgeshire District Council could have serious implications for future planning control in the district.

But Mr Archer, director of planning at East Cambridgeshire District Council, has defended his team, saying that because the Boswell family never moved on to the site the planning permission was not implemented and, therefore, no action can be taken.

Planners granted permission for the Boswell family to live on the site insisting, however, that when they sell the land it should revert to agricultural use.

In the last two years, Mr Boswell has been refused permission to vary a condition on the land restricting it to only his family and has sold the land.

The new owners have asked for permission to vary the condition which would allow them to move on to the land.

"This should never be allowed to happen," said a leading Little Downham campaigner. "As soon as Mr Boswell sold the land it should have reverted back to agricultural use. Planners have already refused one application to vary the conditions on the site and now they are about to consider another. This is a total waste of public money.

"It has serious implications for all future development in East Cambridgeshire if the district council is not prepared to enforce any breach of planning regulations. This makes a mockery of the whole system.

"We have taken a vote of no confidence in David Archer because the council has not enforced the conditions it originally imposed on the planning permission for this site."

Angry villagers met on Friday to discuss the latest twist in the long-running saga. They are worried that if the rules are not enforced the land could become a major travellers' site.

But Mr Archer said: "The planning permission hasn't been implemented so we cannot take any action.

"Mr Boswell submitted a planning application to remove the condition, which was rejected. So we did stick to our guns on this one. The parish council should take some comfort from that.

"But this situation has become a self-fulfilling prophesy. The Boswell family felt they couldn't move on to the land because of the reaction of the villagers and so the residents have contributed to this situation.

"I am saddened to hear they have passed a vote of no confidence in me and my team but we have carefully considered these planning applications and they have been thoroughly debated by the planning committee.

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