Drone footage shows huge scale of illegal North Staffordshire campsite as travellers ‘move 700 tonnes of rubble and build fence’ in middle of night


Travellers moved 700 tonnes of rubble and built a fence to create an illegal permanent campsite in the middle of the night.

Around 12 dumper truckers arrived on the land close to the Swan With Two Necks pub at Blackbrook at 3am on Saturday (May 23).

Drone footage released to StokeonTrentLive shows the field has been covered in hardcore with two park homes and six caravans in place.

It comes after a planning application to transform the Blackbrook Nursery site off  A53 Newcastle Road was withdrawn after being recommended for refusal by Newcastle Borough Council planners.

The scheme – for four caravan pitches and utility blocks – had faced fierce opposition with a huge sign erected near the proposed site last June.

Councillor Graham Hutton, who represents Maer and Whitmore, said he had been inundated with angry calls from his constituents since the travellers arrived under the cover of darkness.

An aerial view over the Gypsy site that set up overnight in Blackbrook without planning permission

He said: “It was a very well-timed and planned operation.

“They came at 3am on Saturday with all the equipment. Within the space of half an hour around 12 large dump trucks appeared.

“Over the course of the next few hours they brought in demolition debris – perhaps 500 tonnes – and then topped it off with 200 tonnes of white stones. A very nice fence has been put up too.

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“There are now six caravans and two park homes.

“The gypsies bought the land for three times the agricultural value but never actually secured planning permission.

Rubbish captured on the site by a local resident’s drone

“They applied but it was recommended for refusal but then they just turned up anyway.

“It’s not gone down very well with my constituents, my phone hasn’t stopped ringing.

“One of the main concerns is that a very short distance away if the main bore hole providing water for the area. We are worried about pollution getting into our drinking water.

“The council is aware and is looking into it but these things can take a year or more to sort out.

“It will be a massive undertaking to get them moved off. The likelihood is there will be a public enquiry which all takes time and money. If they get a good barrister, it could be a very long and drawn out process with appeals and what have you.”

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A total of 90 objections were put to the council last year with residents complaining about sewage provisions, noise, light pollution and the impact on the roads.

Severn Trent water also raised concerns about possible contamination to the local drinking water bore hole.

A resident of Ashley, the next village over from Blackbrook,said: “There is already black plastic rubbish bags and used Calor gas bottles mounting at the green field site and the gypsies have only been there for three days. All of us local residents’ initial fears are coming to fruition.

“It’s a little similar to the Dominic Cummings thing, in that it’s one rule for them and another for everyone else.

A permanent camp has been set up without planning permission overnight off the A53 near the Swan With Two Necks pub at Blackbrook

“Planning permission and things of that nature are there for a reason to stop this sort of thing from happening.

“It was rejected because it was in a beauty spot. There were highways concerns, water contamination worries as it was next to a bore hole. It’s not near any shops or amenities. It’s a conservation area too.

“They’ve gone against the planning permission because they didn’t get their own way. It sticks out like a sore thumb.”

A Blackbrook resident added: “This is a law-abiding rural area and we feel very hard done by. We went to great lengths to stop this application being approved. It took hours and hours of my time and I even stood up and gave a speech but it was all for nothing.

“These people have rode roughshod over the planning regulations. It’s just appalling.

Residents are furious and concerned about their local water supply becoming contaminated

“It’s in a totally unsuitable location away from amenities and with no safe access on the A53.

“They came in the middle of the night and have since carried out a massive amount of work. It was an undercover operation. The residents are up in arms about it.

“They aren’t allowed to live there legally even though they own the land.”

Councillor Paul Northcott, cabinet member for planning and growth, said: “We are aware of the situation and have been to the site. The welfare and safety of all concerned is the first priority and we are working with our partners, including Staffordshire Police, on the next steps.”





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