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Travellers' site application sparks fears about Lichfield Canal restoration

The Lichfield & Hatherton Canals Restoration Trust has expressed fears that restoration of the Lichfield canal could be obstructed, after a family of 'travellers' bought a field on the line of the canal just south of the M6 Toll motorway – and put in planning permission for a caravan site. 

On 11th June local councillors rejected the application, saying it represented “inappropriate development … harmful to the openness and visual amenity of this green belt location.”

The field has already been cleared of vegetation by the family, and was to have been concreted over to provide standing areas for six mobile homes, two touring caravans, utility buildings and septic tanks. Other amenities, not mentioned in the application, would also have been required by law if permission had been granted. 

The Lichfield and Hatherton Canals Restoration Trust was among the objectors, since the land lies directly on the line of the canal at the south end of the Lichfield canal aqueduct, installed when the M6 Toll was built. 

The site is also adjacent to where the famous ‘Staffordshire Hoard’ of Saxon treasures was discovered in 2009.  If permission had been granted, there were also fears that it might prevent a future Mercian visitor centre being built - or further archaeology taking place. 

In rejecting the application, little mention was made of the canal restoration. The canal restoration’s supporters now fear that a renewed bid could be made. it is reported that the local council may be short of its imposed target to make provision for travellers, so the decision is likely to go to appeal. This could lead to temporary permission for five years.

If it were to get approval, even temporary, the applicants would be ‘sitting pretty’ on the land. The canal trust fears that this could make restoration of the line up to Ogley Junction very problematic indeed.

The field at the end of the Lichfield aqueduct 
subject to a planning application for a traveller's camp site. The canal restoration would be made on an embankment at the end of the field, and would overlook the field.  

Friday 29 June  | Andrew Denny  | 5.05pm, Friday 29 June 2012

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