TRAVELLERS who have set up camp on greenbelt land in Underwood are set to put in a retrospective planning application for the plot – much to the frustration of local residents.
Four caravans moved on to land at the junction of the A608 and Felley Mill Lane South more than a week ago and Ashfield District Council has now issued a stop notice, forbidding any more caravans from arriving.
Two well-attended public meetings have been held in Underwood about the issue – the latest of which was last Friday – and Coun Robert Sears-Piccavey, Underwood representative on the council, has collected more than 1,100 signatures on a petition against the camp.
He said the travellers who attended the meeting were going to apply for planning permission for the camp and would appeal if the application was refused.
“They should not get it because it’s on agricultural greenbelt,” he said.
“It’s a very frustrating situation but I told everyone at the meeting I will fight any development on that triangle.”
Selston area district and county councillor Gail Turner says she thinks the camp is an ‘invasion of the greenbelt’.
“It’s a very worrying time for residents and it is very unfair as well to just walk onto the greenbelt just like that,” she added.
The council was looking at serving an enforcement notice, which would force the caravans to move out, ‘as soon as is practical’.
But the authority has warned it has to follow the legal requirements of the planning process and is now awaiting receipt of the travellers’ application.
Coun John Knight, leader of the council, was also at Friday’s meeting.
He said: “Ashfield District Council has to deal with issues like this in a scrupulous and legal manner and is doing everything possible to bring this situation to a speedy conclusion.”
Local MP Gloria De Piero has promised residents that she will write to Government ministers and raise some of their concerns directly with them.
She added: “As I understand the whole area is listed as Agricultural Green Belt land and so far the local authority has managed to maintain this status.
“However, this recent development is certainly worrying news and many concerned residents have contacted my office and asked for help.”