Fringe Box



Wanborough Fields a ‘Right Fit’ for Travellers, Says Owner

Published on: 21 Feb, 2022
Updated on: 24 Feb, 2022

By Hugh Coakley

A landowner of a part of Wanborough Fields, advertising plots of agricultural land for sale in an area of great landscape value, has said: “I’m sure a bunch of Travellers, as new owners, will be a right fit to the environment”.

Already there are reports of people are living in caravans on the field and claims that new hardstanding is being constructed despite GBC enforcement notices being upheld at appeal six months ago.

David Bilbe the Conservative borough councillor from the neighbouring ward of Normandy, commented: “My concerns extend to all kinds of unlawful use as is evidenced by what has happened on the field so far for all to see.”

Chair of Normandy Action Group, Sir Michael Aaronson said: “Unscrupulous individuals are running rings around GBC because the enforcement function is under-resourced and officers don’t have the tools they need to do the job.”

Caravans photographed on Wanborough Fields (February 11).

The AGLV land is said to be pending a possible upgrade to Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB) designation, under a boundary review.

GBC is accused of failing to enforce the planning regulations that apply to the land.

Sir Mike Aaronson said: “This is a desperate situation. The council as a whole has to take responsibility for this; not only does this once pristine agricultural land risk becoming a permanent eyesore, but the integrity of the entire planning system is at stake. Why should anyone obey the rules when they can see others flouting them with apparent impunity?”

We understand GBC are struggling to pin down the identity of different plot owners as land details on the Land Registry are not up to date, delaying enforcement action.

Subdivided plot on Wanborough Fields is being advertised on Facebook Marketplace for sale at £22,000 for a 1,000 sqm plot or rent.

One plot is being advertised on Facebook Marketplace as “10 parcel of agricultural Lands For Sale in hogs back, Wanborough” [sic].

The price is indicated as “£22,000/month Property to rent”. The advertiser, Mr Faam, said each 1,000 sqm plot is being offered at £22,000 with all 10 plots at £220,000. He added: “I’m sure a bunch of travellers, as new owners, will be a right fit to the environment.”

Mr Faam is also advertising to sell the timber from a two-storey structure on the site and a wind turbine.

Cllr David Bilbe

Cllr Bilbe said: “I have been very concerned about Wanborough Fields for over two years and have asked countless questions and made comments and suggestions to the [GBC] enforcement team. They visited last week and went back again on Friday in the light of intensified development.

“I am very concerned that this land has been sold in parcels to numerous people and they are developing without appropriate planning approval or consent. I am assured that this is receiving the highest priority by GBC.

“I have copied the leader of the council, our MP [Angela Richardson] and NAG on most of my correspondence. Despite this, the land continues to get uglier and become more developed. This land is AGLV bordering and it looks absolutely appalling. It used to be a beautiful field.

“This is not Normandy and Tony Rooth [ward councillor for Pilgrims, which includes Wanborough Fields] has again assured me of his concerns.

“GBC is the statutory body to protect the land and residents from inappropriate development and should use every element of the law to do so.

“It is unacceptable that land with an Article 4 stipulation which bars subdivision and selling in parcels should be ignored. If there is are agents involved in this they should be tied into any legal action.”

See also Letter: Wanborough Fields Appeal Refused, Landowners Must Comply Or GBC Must Enforce (January 30, 2022)

GBC “Fails To Act” As Plot Owners Ignore Notices At Wanborough Fields  (March 2021) and

Council Crackdown On Wanborough Fields Landowners Who Ignored Planning Laws (October 2020)

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Responses to Wanborough Fields a ‘Right Fit’ for Travellers, Says Owner

  1. Michael Aaronson Reply

    February 22, 2022 at 9:22 am

    With reference to the quoted comments made by the landowner, it makes no difference what category of person is undertaking unauthorised development in Wanborough Fields; please let this discussion not descend into a rant against a particular group.

    I am reminded of this extract from the judgment of the Planning Inspector in dismissing the Appeal by the same landowner against GBC’s Enforcement Notice regarding his plot of land: “I therefore find that unreasonable behaviour resulting in unnecessary or wasted expense, as described in the Planning Practice Guidance, has been demonstrated and that a full award of costs is justified.”

  2. Paul Hart Reply

    February 22, 2022 at 11:34 am

    To me, the crux of the article is this: “GBC is accused of failing to enforce the planning regulations that apply to the land.”

    What risks to a rules-based planning system if there are no consequences for those who ignore the rules.

    What does GBC intend to do now to avoid a free-for-all on similar sites across the borough?

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