DCSIMG

Travellers turn yard into illegal ‘fortress’

Exterior of former transport yard, the home of traveller Andrew Smith.  Residents have complained about the 2.4 metre high fence, claiming it's like a 'fortress'.

Exterior of former transport yard, the home of traveller Andrew Smith. Residents have complained about the 2.4 metre high fence, claiming it's like a 'fortress'.

A St Helens travelling family converted an old transport yard into a “fortress” to protect themselves from violent attacks.

The claims were made at a council meeting where the owner, Andrew Smith, applied for retrospective planning permission for the Glover Street site.

Planning chiefs had knocked back an earlier application by Mr Smith after he built on the site before securing planning permission.

Two static caravans have already been placed on the site, which is just outside the Shires housing estate, along with a 2.4 metre high boundary fence complete with concrete pillars.

Council officer John Waddelow told the hearing the boundary fencing, particularly at the front, was too “austere” and would isolate the site’s residents from the community. Barbed wire can also be seen at the top of sections of a boundary fence.

One resident described the site as being “like a fortress”.

Mr Waddelow said: “We do want the site to be secure but this feels like more than just being secure - it feels like too much.

“I don’t want anyone to feel insecure in their own home but we have to have in mind how that security is achieved.”

Mr Smith argued that the level of security was necessary because a bricks had been thrown at the site.

He said: “We need to be closed in because other people are targeting us constantly. Where are we meant to go?”

Planners also say they are concerned about the effect the fencing has on the overal character of the area. A decision by the planning inspectorate is expected next month.

 

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