A LAST ditch attempt to keep an unauthorised caravan site open in Finchampstead for the sake of the children living there was scotched by a High Court ruling today.
The 22 caravans parked at Pineridge Park Homes in Nine Mile Ride are home to more than 20 children and their families, many of them vulnerable.
Since 2009, residents have been engaged in a bitter stand-off with Wokingham Borough Council, resisting all attempts to move them on.
The council has twice issued enforcement notices, demanding that residential use of the 0.67 hectare site cease, but the caravans have remained despite not having planning permission.
The latest deadline for clearing the site passed on June 12 this year, but residents led by Felix Cash made a final throw of the dice at London's High Court.
Mr Cash challenged a planning inspector's refusal in February to grant retrospective planning permission for the caravan park.
Attacking the inspector's ruling as 'irrational', his lawyers argued the park was an 'invaluable facility' for vulnerable families in dire housing need.
The human rights of the children to respect for their homes and family lives had been given insufficient weight, the court was told.
However, Mrs Justice Patterson today dealt residents a hammer blow when she praised the inspector's reasoning as 'perfectly sound'.
In her February decision, inspector Diane Lewis said the park was harming the landscape, character and visual amenity of the area.
Any contribution it made to meeting housing needs in the area was outweighed by the planning objections, she ruled.
And any interference with residents' human rights was 'necessary and proportionate' when balanced against the wider public interest.
Dismissing Mr Cash's challenge, Mrs Justice Patterson said the welfare of children living on the site had been fully taken into account.
The probability was that residents would not become homeless if moved on and that alternative housing 'may be of a better standard'.
To say that the inspector had ignored social factors and the needs of the children was "a hopeless submission", she added.
Far from being irrational, Ms Lewis's conclusions could not be faulted and were fully in accordance with local and national planning policies.
The deadline for clearing the site of caravans and hardcore having already passed, residents could now face court action if they fail to leave.