No room at the inn

As we remember the story of an infant child in need of shelter we might take a charitable view of an inspector’s decision to grant temporary permission for four unauthorised Traveller pitches in the green belt in Yorkshire, after he gave weight to the needs of the children on the site (DCS Number 200-007-139).

The inspector found harm to the green belt through inappropriate development, detriment to openness, encroachment into the countryside, and harm to the character and appearance of the area. He reasoned, however, that since there was a lack of available, alternative sites, it was likely that dismissing the appeals would force the family to resort to roadside camping. With ten young children and two more babies on the way, he attached significant weight to the appellants’ and their family’s personal circumstances.

The inspector explained that the human rights assessment must involve regard to the best interests of any children on the site. He recorded that ZH (Tanzania) v Secretary of State for the Home Department [2011]  and Elizabeth Collins v SSCLG [2013] established that the need to safeguard and promote the welfare of children is a primary consideration. Where rights under Article 8 of the European Convention on Human Rights include those of children, they must be viewed in this context, the inspector continued. The best interests of the child are not determinative, he explained, but no other consideration must be regarded as more important, or given greater weight, merely by virtue of its inherent nature.

The inspector quashed the enforcement notice, concluding that the grant of a three-year personal permission was proportionate and necessary; it would protect the green belt in the long term whilst meeting the best interests of the children and avoiding a violation of the occupiers’ rights under the Human Rights Act.

This decision must come as very welcome news to two expectant mothers who will not now be forced to take to the road after all.

The DCP Blog wishes all its readers a very merry Christmas!

Section 4.1253 of DCP Online concerns Article 8 of the ECHR – the right to respect for private and family life

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