A FULL injunction and an interim award of £20,000 has been awarded to a council after it took legal action against a traveller site that had almost 50 mobile homes instead of the permitted 11.

The site, known as Manor Park in Kidlington, has permission to be used strictly by the gypsy and traveller community for no more than 11 pitches with each pitch consisting of one mobile home, one touring caravan and one utility day room.

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But after Cherwell District Council was alerted to a breach of its authorised use in October, officers visited the site and found almost 50 mobile homes being advertised for rent on the open market.

Some were also occupied by non-members of the gypsy and traveller community.

Manor Park lies within the Oxford Green Belt where there is a presumption against development unless very special circumstances apply.

The council therefore sought to obtain an injunction to prevent any more mobile homes being brought onto it and to prevent any further occupation of empty homes.

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But when the first hearing came around on October 14, an interim injunction was granted by the judge at Birmingham High Court because the owners were not given notice of the proceedings due to the speed at which the council said the injunction was needed.

Papers were then served at the site, including a date for a hearing on October 28.

However, the defendants did not attend court for this hearing and so the judge granted a further interim order which stopped any more empty homes from being occupied and brought onto the site.

When the next hearing came around on December 8, officers again sought a final injunction to have all but the authorised mobile homes on the site removed and non-members of the traveller community to leave.

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But this time, two of the defendants attended to plead their case and so the judge was not satisfied that a final injunction could be granted as all defendants had not attended and mitigation was put forward by the defendants that did attend.

For the third time, an interim injunction was granted, however the judge ordered all additional electrical hook-up pipes and all vacant mobile homes to be fully disconnected on the site.

On March 4, a full injunction was finally awarded with an interim award of £20,000 costs. Officers will return to court in June and during the latest visit to the site, some of the vacant mobile homes were being removed.

The council's enforcement report says: "This has been a challenging and time-consuming piece of work by the planning enforcement team but provides illustration that the council is prepared to take swift action where required in dealing with serious breaches of planning control."

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