Traveller appeal for land off Culhams Mill – Silchester Ref: Appeal Reference 3210244: Land at Rapiers, Little London Road, Silchester, TW7 4FR


Last week I attended a pre-enquiry meeting with members of the BDBC planning team, The BDBC barrister and the Planning Inspector, Jeanie Russell.   Mr Connors from the Traveller Group was also requested to attend but declined to do so.  The following is a brief summary of this meeting.

  • At the previous pre-enquiry meeting that I attended in November, Mr Connors (the appellant for the Traveller group) informed the Inspector that the group had parted company with their agent (Mr Woods) on the grounds of non-payment of fees.  He further stated that the group was in the process of seeking a new agent.
  • At the meeting last week, the Inspector informed us that she had not heard from the Mr Connors since the 7th of January but she had been informed by him that they had been unable to agree terms with another agent and therefore had no representation.
  • Quite rightly, the Inspector expressed concern that, without qualified representation, a full enquiry would be a very one sided affair and would not allow the Traveller group to fully state their case.  She felt that it would also be a waste of public funds.  This was further complicated by the fact that Covid restrictions make it very hard for her to visit the site as would normally be expected.
  • As such, the full face to face enquiry has now been cancelled and the Inspector has proposed instead a hybrid solution whereby the hearing will be primarily heard by written representation and partly through a face to face hearing which will be held in Silchester Village Hall on 27th/28th of April.
  • If this proposal is accepted by both BDBC and the Traveller group then the Inspector will require written depositions from all parties by the 16th March.  This includes representations from local residents.
  • BDBC will be writing to residents to formally notify them of the procedure and provide associated dates.
  • The Planning Inspector will make her final decision on the outcome of this enquiry at the hearing on the 27th/28th April.  


  • The unauthorised occupation of the water meadow off Culhams Mill first took place almost four years ago!  It has been a long hard slog since then by many people within our community.  However, largely through the solidarity shown by residents of Silchester and Little London, we have managed to ensure that occupation of the site has, thus far, been prevented.
  • We are now on the last leg of this and we hope that, with one final effort, will put an end to this dispute once and for all.
  • The current enquiry process is being held by the Planning Inspectorate for England and Wales (sometimes known as PINS).  This operates independently from the BDBC planning process and the original objections through the BDBC planning portal are not automatically carried over.  
  • As such, whilst the original planning application received 248 objections, the Planning Inspector has only received on 53 thus far.
  • If you still feel strongly about the planned conversion of the water meadow at Culhams Mill into a 13 pitch caravan site for Travellers and Gypsies and would like your voice to be heard then we encourage you to write to the case officer handling the case at the PINs. 
  • Correspondence should be sent to;
    • Mr Ben White, Case Officer.
    • The PINS appeal reference for this is “Appeal Reference 3210244: Land at Rapiers, Little London Road, Silchester, TW7 4FR”.  
    • All submissions should be by the 16th March at the latest. 
  • As nothing has substantially changed during the last four years the original objections that you submitted at the start of the planning process are still valid and you should feel free to submit the same document.  If you no longer have access to that document a further copy of the template can be found here.  
  • As before, there is no need for objections to come from just within the community; they will be considered from wherever they are submitted as long as the grounds for objection refer to relevant planning considerations (reflected in the template).
  • We genuinely believe that the end of this saga is finally in sight and we would like to encourage all residents to make a final effort to stop this unauthorised development once and for all.

Best wishes

Simon and Steve