VILLAGERS are celebrating after an ‘illegal’ gypsy encampment set up on the controversial Three Cornered Piece site at East Harting has finally been cleared.
A spokesman for Chichester District Council (CDC) said the land had now been cleared of a widened access track to the land, sewage treatment works, an area of hard-standing and a concrete base.
CDC leader Heather Caird said: “Our enforcement team has worked tirelessly over a number of years for this outcome.
“Although we’ve had to face a number of appeals, we knew the courts would reach the right decision and so we were determined to battle on.
“We will do all we can to preserve the beauty of the district and this case sends a clear message that we take very seriously anything that harms the character and appearance of this part of the South Downs National Park.
“We will not tolerate these breaches of the law and we will take action against offenders when necessary.”
Christopher Francis Searle and Jimmy Roy Searle were ordered to remove the unauthorised works by September 16 following a successful court action in April.
Portsmouth County Court ruled that the Searles had carried out this work, in breach of an injunction granted in January 2010 to stop any further works from taking place.
CDC served an enforcement notice in relation to two mobile homes, one caravan, and stable buildings for residential purposes in 2009.
It required the removal of the mobile homes and caravan from the land, which is a greenfield site, and to cease using the land for residential purposes.
The gypsy family who own the site lodged an appeal against the council’s enforcement notice, and the hearing was held in May 2010.
The case was then called in by the local government secretary Eric Pickles, who dismissed the planning appeal.
The owners then challenged this decision in the High Court, but this was rejected in August 2012.
The battle erupted again earlier this year when a retrospective plan to change the use of the land to a traveller site was submitted in June.
A CDC spokesman said: “A planning application was refused in August for a change of use including retention and provision of concrete hardstandings.
“An appeal has been lodged against the refusal and the planning inspectorate is deciding which procedure the appeal should follow.”