The Secretary of State has refused to confirm the Mid Suffolk District Council (Combs Lane) Compulsory Purchase Order 2011, so preventing the delivery of a scheme by a registered Housing Association for the improvement of an existing privately run gypsy site which benefited from Homes and Communities Agency grant funding.
The Order making authority were represented by Harriet Townsend. Their case was that the site had been neglected and under-used over a lengthy period and the need for gypsy accommodation was such that it should be improved as proposed by the Housing Association.
The owner had previously admitted that the site was vacant but at the Inquiry he disputed this description, arguing that all 19 pitches were rented – mostly by gypsy families who were rarely there, but who had a right to make use of them as and when they chose to do so.
The Secretary of State agreed with his Inspector's recommendation and found that benefits of the Order scheme included an improvement in the quality of the site, an increase in occupation, and that it would ensure the use of the site for gypsies and travellers, a use for which there was a pressing need.
However, telling against the Order was the proposed reduction in the number of pitches from 19 to 12, and "the loss of a site which provides a type of pitch for which there is clearly some demand but for which there is only a limited supply" [SoS decision paragraph 14]. Also weighing against the Order was the Authority's failure to make greater progress in its Site Allocations DPD so showing how and where it proposed to meet the District's needs for gypsy and traveller accommodation [Inspector's Report at 91-92 and SoS decision at paragraph 14].
Decision letter: 120417 Decision letter Combs lane