Barnet Council's decision to refuse a planning application for a two-acre paddock at the Arkley end of Mays Lane to be converted to a site for residential caravans has been hailed by local campaigners as a significant boost to the protection of the Green Belt.
Over 1,300 objections were registered with the council over the request for permission to change the use of farmland to station two caravans for residential use, together with hardstanding and adjoining day rooms.
A campaign mounted within the locality argued that the paddock, which had been used for many years for grazing horses, was an essential part of a wildlife corridor that extended from Arkley through the Dollis Valley and south to Totteridge Common.
Mr Patrick Casey, who made the application for two residential pitches, argued that there was a “recognised need” within the Barnet area for facilities “to accommodate a gypsy lifestyle.”
But this argument was rejected by the council which said the special circumstances advanced by Mr Casey’s architects, Green Planning Studio, did not outweigh the inappropriateness of the development and potential harm to the openness of the Green Belt.
The council also made it clear that it did not consider the intended occupants of the caravans came within the definition of gypsies and travellers or that the personal circumstances of the proposed occupants outweighed harm to the Green Belt.
Changing the use of the land to residential caravan pitches would result in an increase in the built form of a site that had not previously been developed and was at odds with the character of the wider area.
Organisers of the campaign to oppose planning permission said they were grateful to everyone in the community who had given them assistance and to the 1,300 objections which the council “really could not ignore”.
“Our main argument against the application was that it would result in inappropriate development, and we think this decision should set an example to other developers who might want to develop Green Belt land.
“There are too many threats to Barnet’s green spaces, and this provides the community with more tools to protect the area and challenge inappropriate development.”