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Report from the Kettering Evening Telegraph, January 17th 1980

Last ditch bid to keep site open

Caravan Site behind the former Thatcher's pub - view in January 1980
The site in question

Seven families may lose their caravan homes unless an appeal to the Government succeeds.

The mobile homes on Thatchers' Caravan Site in Meeting Lane , Burton Latimer, were the subject of a public inquiry in Kettering this week. The borough council wants to close the site at the end of next year, but the owner is fighting to keep it open.

Former chairman of Burton Latimer Council and local magistrate Mrs Edith Peck, of Orchard House, Regent Road , has let the eight plots to caravan dwellers for the past 20 years. Seven families live there at present. She told the Department of the Environment inspec­tor, Capt P J Wyatt, that the caravan site met a need in the town. "There has always been a housing shortage in Burton Latimer and the long-awaited sewerage scheme has been holding up building plans in the area,” said Mrs Peck. “Many people cannot afford to buy houses and consider a caravan a good alternative.  Also I believe that people should have a right to choose to live in caravans if they so wish."

Mr Gwilym Thomas, solicitor acting for Mrs Peck, said the small residential site at the junction of Meeting Lane and Church Street was unobtrusive. "It is a small, irregularly shaped piece of land, unsuitable for building purposes." He said temporary planning permission for the site was granted at regular intervals between 1957 and 1976, and Mrs Peck had no reason to suppose that this would cease.

Mr Thomas said that the borough council had failed to provide any concrete evidence that the site was a nuisance, on noise, traffic or environmental grounds.

Kettering Council maintains that temporary planning permission was originally granted to cope with a housing shortage which no longer exists in Burton Latimer. Mr Christopher Edwards, for the council, said that all the families on the site would be re-housed. “The need for this type of sub-standard housing in the town has diminished,” said Mr Edwards. “The council feels that the potential harm the site could do to the neighbourhood is great. It is also concerned about the lack of amenities on the site, its visual impact on the environment, and the nuisance caused to neighbouring properties," he said.

A site resident, Mrs Rachel Keeley, said it was “a lovely place to live."

A contrasting view came from Mrs Rona Price. “I don’t call it living on this site. It’s just existing.”

Owner of the adjoining house, Mr Stanley Thorne of Meeting Lane, said the site was an "unholy mess" He said he had been objecting for 10 years against noise and nuisance caused by the caravan dwellers.

The Department of the Environment will announce the inspector’s decision in due course.

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