Please note: Following a ruling in the High Court, City of Wolverhampton Council’s injunction to prohibit unauthorised encampments has been discharged. We are appealing this decision and will work with partners to take action on any incidents in the meantime. Work to develop our short-stay stopping site is not affected by this decision and the development will continue.
What is the High Court Injunction?
The High Court Injunction gives the council greater powers to evict those in unauthorised encampments. Without the injunction current central government laws mean the council is unable to evict those in unauthorised encampments without following lengthy protocols and procedures.
Where does the injunction cover?
The injunction covers the following areas across the City of Wolverhampton.
When will the injunction be in force?
The injunction will come into effect as soon as the appropriate steps have been taken by the council to publicise the outcome of the hearing as ordered by the High Court.
Why isn't my street covered?
The list of sites was drawn up primarily based on the locations that had experienced an unauthorised encampment in recent years and the locations considered most vulnerable.
We were advised by Counsel in 2017 that without a transit site in place a blanket ban on all open areas within Wolverhampton could be seen as dis-proportionate and could result in the application failing.
We tried to add Heath Park and Bantock Park following the recent incursions but was advised that this could delay the entire application.
On Tuesday 2 October at the High Court, Judge Jefford DBE repeatedly raised concern that we were applying to protect so much land without having a transit site available.
We were able to demonstrate that the application was proportionate - evidenced by the fact that encampments had been set up on land falling outside the scope of the injunction.
This satisfied Mrs Justice Jefford DBE that the Council was compliant with the Public Sector Equality Duty and allowed the application to proceed.
On 5 December 2019 we returned to the High Court for a review hearing and to make an application to vary the injunction to protect more sites in the city including Bantock Park, Heath Town Park and WV Active Aldersley.
As part of its variation application, the Council also asked for Nettlefolds Park, Villiers Primary School and two pieces of land Off Wobaston Road and Land at the rear of Inkerman Street to be removed from the injunction as, having been developed since the original injunction was argued, they were no longer considered at risk of illegal incursions.
These changes were approved and the injunction now covers 59 sites across the city.
What happens if the injunction is breached?
Anyone breaching the injunction by refusing to move could be imprisoned, face a fine or have their belongings and/or property seized.
What is a Negotiated Stopping Point?
An area of land set aside for travellers to be temporarily moved to by the police and/or bailiffs. This will only apply when they have established an unauthorised encampment within Wolverhampton.
Will the NSP require planning permission?
Yes. The full application can be viewed via our planning portal on the council website
What’s the difference between this site and the permanent traveller site at Showell Road, Bushbury?
The permanent site is for travellers who have settled and is now full to capacity. It is therefore not available to other groups from outside the area that have set up an unauthorised encampment.
Can travellers or other groups pre-book the NSP?
No. It is only available to deal with emergency situations such as unauthorised encampments.
Why do we need a NSP in Wolverhampton?
In October 2018, the council applied to the High Court for an injunction to protect 60 sites from unauthorised encampments. The injunction was granted subject to review in December 2019 – the Court made clear that a key determining factor would be provision of a NSP. Furthermore, notwithstanding the injunction, British Parliament and the police are pressing for more sites.
How many travellers is it expected to accommodate?
A maximum of 13 pitches / 13 families
What other sites were considered before the council settled on Gorsebrook Road?
During the search for a possible NSP a number of sites within the City of Wolverhampton were examined for their suitability. The search was comprehensive and did not favour any particular part of the city. Some important criteria included:
• Land to be council-owned
• Site to be of an appropriate size for its intended use
• Adequate access needs to be in place or made available
• Site must either be well-secured, or capable of being well-secured
• NSP must stand a reasonable chance of gaining planning consent
• Use must not adversely impact on committed development proposals
• Site must be safe for temporary short-term use by persons residing in caravans
Part of the search included looking at a number of former landfill sites, including some where landfill gas levels had been shown to have decreased to a point where the sites were safe to use. The following is a list of those landfills:
• Sandy Lane Open Space, Sandy Lane, Aldersley
• Brickheath Road Open Space
• Stowheath Lane Open Space
• Spring Vale Park (formerly Ettingshall Park)
• Kitchen Lane Open Space
• Phoenix Park
• Neachells Lane Open Space
• Ashmore Park, Wednesfield
• Bowman’s Harbour, Wednesfield
Each location was rejected as a viable option for one or more of the following reasons:
• Formal parks
• Open spaces with recreational use including football pitch
• Sites earmarked for industrial / commercial development
How will the NSP be managed?
The NSP will be carefully managed by the council / bailiffs / West Midlands Police. Groups of travellers moving to the NSP will be charged a weekly rent to stay temporarily on the site and will be required to pay a security deposit upfront. This will be a deposit of £250 and a fee of £100 per week with a two-week maximum stay. The deposit will be returned if the area is left clean and tidy. Vehicle movements on and off site will be carefully managed to avoid impact of other road users.
How long can travellers stay on the NSP?
People will be able to stay for a maximum of 14 days. Following departure, they will not be allowed to return for a period of 12 months.
It should be noted that similar sites in Sandwell and Telford have not been occupied for more than three nights in the last three years.
How will behaviour on the site be controlled?
Users will be required to sign a site agreement that sets out acceptable standards of conduct relating to such issues as waste control / noise / animal control and anti-social behaviour. A site manager will be present during periods of use to monitor and control these issues.
What amenities are provided?
Basic amenities include male and female WCs and sinks. No facilities such as electricity hook-ups or potable water will be provided at individual pitch locations. The NSP is for emergency use only.
Will the area be secure?
Yes. Full details available on the planning portal
Have West Midlands Police been involved?
Yes. The police were consulted on locations which the council considered viable and supported the Gorsebrook Road location.
Can I see scientific reports and impact assessments relating to the proposal?
Yes. These can be found on the planning portal.
Should I be worried that the former quarry and landfill site is unsafe to place caravans on a short-term basis?
No. A comprehensive ground investigation was undertaken by an independent company specialising in such works (Ground Investigation and Piling Ltd). Their report concludes that there would be no requirements for any remediation works to be carried out with respect to human health for use of the land as a NSP.
How will the trees and local wildlife be affected by the proposal?
The council commissioned an independent ecological survey of the Gorsebrook Quarry earlier in 2019 to determine what plant and animal species were present on site. A survey of this type is an important first step to see whether there are any species on site that are protected under certain UK legislation (for example, badgers and bats).
The initial survey, and subsequent follow-on surveys, did not find any protected species within the quarry site, and the survey concluded that the site is generally low in ecological value in relation to the types of habitat present. However, the woodland fringe on the eastern part of the site (that is, the large wooded slope) does hold a greater ecological value, and the council recognises the importance of retaining the trees and understorey vegetation in this area as the site is developed. The council also believes that trees that have grown up in the southern end of the quarry also provide an important habitat for birds, small mammals and invertebrates. As such, as the NSP was developed, we sought to retain the trees and understorey vegetation in this area as well.
Unfortunately, some trees needed to be removed along with brambles and nettles that had grown in the centre of the quarry. However, in line with the recommendations of the ecological report, more trees will be planted both within the NSP and beyond its boundaries. These trees and shrubs will be native types with a higher wildlife value to not only sustain existing wildlife but also to try and encourage new species to the area.
Full details of the work carried out to investigate the site for badgers, bats and birds can be found on the planning portal.
Where will the travellers park their daily-use vehicles?
People will be able to park their vehicles at a nearby car park. To view its location please view the download section on the NSP page.
The car park in question, is within walking distance of the proposed transit site, is not on the Science Park complex itself and is owned by the local authority.
How will the car park be used?
The car park will be used as a car park, not a NSP or overspill from anywhere else. It will be used for vehicles needed for day to day use to park overnight on a permit basis.
The car park will not be used for parking large commercial vehicles or residential vehicles such as caravans or mobile homes.
Why has this car park been chosen?
Usage records indicate this car park usually has 90 per cent of its spaces available and is unused.
As such, the car park will easily be able to accommodate the handful of vehicles that may wish to use this facility without any detrimental impact to local businesses.
What if this car park is full?
If there are no spaces available, we will look for a suitable alternative car park.
Will travellers moved from unauthorised encampments have to pay to use the car park?
Any charges for using the car park will form part of the fee paid by anyone paying for a pitch in the NSP.
Has the council consulted with local businesses and residents on the proposed use of the car park?
There is no requirement to consult on the use of the car park as there is no proposed change of use as it will be retained as a car park, that any member of the public can use.