Rossendale Borough Council

Managing Unauthorised Encampments

Rossendale Borough Council's Approach

Rossendale Borough Council has a joint protocol in place with the Police, Lancashire County Council and other local authorities across Pennine Lancashire for managing illegal unauthorised encampments within the Borough. This ensures that our approach is robust, firm but fair, and transparent.

An unauthorised encampment is when an individual or group of individuals move onto a piece of land that they do not own with the intention to reside either on a temporary or permanent basis, without the permission of the landowner.

Overview of the process

Unauthorised encampments are a matter of civil trespass between the landowner and the individual(s) illegally camped on the land.  

Generally the Council will remove unauthorised encampments from Council-owned land. If the encampment is not on Council land the removal of the trespasser is the responsibility of the landowner. As part of our protocol, notification and guidance will be provided to private landowners in this instance.

The Council must follow set procedures when dealing with unauthorised encampments:

  • The process starts with confirming whether the Council owns the land and, if it doesn’t, who does.
  • Once it is confirmed that the Council owns the land, the Council is required to undertake a site visit to gather evidence of the illegal encampment for enforcement reasons and carry out welfare checks to identify if there are any welfare needs amongst individuals.
  • If there are no immediate welfare needs or concerns the Council can serve a 24 hour notice to leave.
  • If, after the notice to leave is served, the individuals continue to remain on the land past the date given, the Council can then apply to the Courts for a Possession Order.
  • The Court Possession Order is served on the site with a specified leave date.
  • If the individuals fail to leave, the Council can then apply for a Warrant of Possession to evict them from land. This Warrant is executed by the Police and a Court appointed bailiff as soon as they become available.
  • Alternatively the Council may consider applying to the Magistrates’ Court for a Direction to leave the land as set out in the Protocol.
  • After the unauthorised encampment has been moved on, the Council will make every effort to clean the site as soon as possible.

It should be noted that any site visits or serving of Court orders to leave will be undertaken in Police presence.

The eviction process will depend on the circumstances of each individual case and the time taken to obtain a Court hearing. There are a number of factors that can cause delays to the eviction process. They include:

  • If welfare needs are identified
  • Public holidays
  • Obtaining a Court date
  • Weather (snow/water logging may hinder vehicle manoeuvre)

The Court can refuse to grant the Council an order to evict an unauthorised encampment if it believes there are unavoidable reasons or it feels the Council has failed to make adequate enquires about the general health and welfare of the individuals camped illegally. Therefore it is vital that the procedures set out in our protocol are carried out correctly.

How to report an incident of an unauthorised encampment

To report unauthorised encampments in Rossendale, please contact:

Legal Services on 01706 252438

Details of any known unauthorised encampments will be made available on the Council’s website and updates provided as and when they are available. Please check this before you make a report.

Summary of powers available to tackle illegal unauthorised encampments

In partnership with the Police, the Council will determine the quickest and most appropriate powers be used on a case by case basis. A summary of powers that may be used are:

  • Pre-emptive injunctions to prevent vulnerable land from unauthorised encampments
  • Possession orders via the County Court to remove to remove trespassers from land
  • Directions via the Magistrates’ Court to remove to remove trespassers from land
  • Police powers to order unauthorised campers to leave land
  • Temporary stop notices to stop work that breaches planning rules, allowing council’s to decide whether further enforcement action is needed.
  • Power of entry onto land so authorised officers can obtain information for enforcement purposes
  • Planning contravention notices to stop work on development if there appears to be a breach of planning rules or the council needs more information about the activities on the land
  • Enforcement notices to remedy a breach of planning rules
  • Ensuring sites have valid caravan or tent site licenses.  

See the DCLG guidance for full details of the circumstances in which these powers can be utilised.

Other useful documents that can be downloaded from this page:

  • Managing Unauthorised Encampments Protocol
  • Unauthorised Encampments Code of Conduct  
  • Land Owner Guidance

Department: Unauthorised Encampments

Telephone: 01706 252438

Futures Park, Futures Park , Bacup, Lancashire, OL13 0BB

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