02:18PM, Wednesday 08 February 2017
A group of travellers who were occupying an unauthorised site in Shurlock Road have left the land voluntarily.
The site has been subject to a lengthy legal process but on Wednesday, January 18, a cabinet priorisation sub committee agreed to serve the travellers with a 14-day notice period before entering the land and taking direct action to remove them.
Council officers visited the site on Monday and found the group had left over the weekend. No direct action was required.
The Royal Borough has racked up £160,000 in legal costs to get the travellers removed, and an application for a judicial review of the council's decision to take direct action was refused by the Supreme Court in August.
This followed refusal by the High Court and the Court of Appeal.
Cllr Derek Wilson, cabinet member for planning, said: “We are delighted that the occupiers have voluntarily removed themselves from this site.
"Residents of Waltham St Lawrence and the surrounding area have been waiting since December 2009 (more than seven years) for this day. Council officers have listened to and worked very hard with them and the occupiers during this time.
"The occupiers were in breach of planning control and we followed every procedure correctly to get to this point as swiftly as was legally possible."
As required by the enforcement notice, the council will now allow a further 28 days for the land to be restored to grassland.
The final cost of removing the travellers has yet to be determined.
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