Gloucs. Boat dwellers launch legal fight to save them from eviction

Tony Gosling tony at
Fri Dec 21 01:03:50 GMT 2012

Boat dwellers launch legal fight to save them from eviction
Wednesday, December 19, 2012
The Bristol Post
By Louis Emanuel
A GROUP of boat dwellers in Hanham are launching 
a legal challenge against a council which has 
served them with eviction notices.
The residents, who rent from a landowner on the 
stretch of the Kennet and Avon Canal between the 
Lock and Weir and Chequers pubs, are fighting 
South Gloucestershire Council's demands that they move their 24 boats.
The council says complaints from the public about 
development on the river bank and unofficial 
moorings have contributed to their decision.
But those living on the site, who pay rent to a 
landowner, claim the decision is not legitimate 
because a freedom of information request revealed 
just four complaints had been made in the last 
six years – the last of which was in 2010.
They also say that problems have been 
overexaggerated by the planning inspectorate in 
order to remove them from a stretch of river.
Keith Cumner, who faces having his boat moved if 
the eviction demands stay, told The Post the 
issues could be resolved without the need for eviction.
He said: "It's disgraceful that they serve 
notices and expect people to leave their homes 
just a week before Christmas. That in itself is outrageous.
"As tenants we knew nothing about it all until we 
had eviction notices left on our boats. Any 
individual problems can be addressed and we have 
even changed some things down there since we have 
heard the complaints. The council haven't got a leg to stand on morally."
He added that the complaints to the council are 
dwarfed by the support they have received from locals.
Catherine Mimnagh, 23, who lives on a boat moored 
on the site, said she would be forced to quit her 
university course if she was evicted.
She said: "There's nowhere else near here that we 
can move to and we can afford. It would be 
complete turmoil if this happens and all my studies would be down the drain."
The Post also spoke to the landlord of the site, 
Simon Bryan, who said he had co-operated with the 
council. He added that he was helping to fund the 
legal appeal, which now lies with the planning inspectorate.
Dominic Moody, a spokesman from South 
Gloucestershire Council, said: "Planning officers 
have visited the Hanham moorings on the River 
Avon on a number of occasions in recent years 
following complaints from local people about the 
increase in unofficial moorings and unauthorised development at the site.
"The landowner has allowed a number of boats to 
moor permanently at the site and boat owners have 
constructed a variety of unofficial jetties and 
decking platforms in and along the river, as well 
as bringing cars, furniture and other items into the field.
"As designated agricultural land in South 
Gloucestershire's green belt, such development is 
not possible without a change in the status of 
the site and we have explained this to the 
landowner on several occasions. We have also 
highlighted the concerns of local residents who 
have complained about the visual impact of the 
development, and about the general state of the site.
"As no action was taken following earlier 
discussions with the landowner, in September we 
served an enforcement notice requiring him to 
prevent permanent moorings at the site and to 
take down the unauthorised structures. The matter 
is now being considered by the planning 
inspectorate and we await their decision."
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Twitter: @TonyGosling
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