Councils would be given greater freedom to stop unauthorised traveller sites being set up and prevent long, drawn-out stalemates like Dale Farm, under proposals announced by Communities Secretary Eric Pickles.
The proposals would allow councils greater freedom to choose when to use ‘Temporary Stop Notices’ in relation to caravans which are used as main residences and are in breach of planning control. This would be backed up with the potential for heavy fines.
Temporary Stop Notices enable councils to take immediate action against unauthorised development without having to wait three days for a Stop Notice, or 28 for an Enforcement Notice to come into effect (by which time it becomes costly and much more difficult to enforce against).
Under the current system councils are constrained as to when they can use these powers against caravans which are main residences. A small minority have sought to abuse the planning system, and the Government believes that this proposal will assist local councils in taking effective action. It is the Government’s view that local councils are best placed to judge whether to use a Temporary Stop Notice in relation to caravans, and should not be constrained by blanket rules.
Subject to the outcome of consultation, the proposals would remove restrictions on the use of Temporary Stop Notices and help councils to act immediately and safeguard their local area from the emergence of unauthorised sites.
This would provide a strong deterrent, and any person guilty of this offence is liable to a fine of up to £20,000, which can be increased to an unlimited fine, on conviction on indictment in the Crown Court.