A HIGH court judge ruled yesterday that a gipsy family living next to a Newport steelworks can stay where they are.

Newport City Council gave planning permission last December for the extended Hendry family to settle on Plot 4B, Esperanto Way, next to Corus’ Orb Works.

The decision was met with anger from Corus UK Ltd officials, who trade at the site as Orb Electrical Steels. They said the busy industrial area is inappropriate for a gipsy site and challenged it at London’s High Court yesterday.

Mr Justice Wyn Williams ruled that Newport City Council had “unlawfully” granted permission for the family to settle there, close to the protected banks of the River Usk.

However, he said it would be unfair on the family, including children who attend local schools, to overturn the planning permissions which permits them to stay on the council-owned land for two years.

The court heard the council granted itself planning permission to use the plot as a gipsy traveller site last December.

It was considered a matter of urgency as the family were encamped on land very close to the Newport Transporter Bridge.

The judge said the council intended to start major works on the bridge and a new home had to be found for the Hendrys as their presence was standing in the way of that project.

Mr Justice Williams said the council’s planning committee was not properly informed on objections from the Environment Agency and its own economic development officer.

He said the committee was misinformed that it had a statutory duty to allocate sufficient sites for gipsies and that the project would not involve new drainage and tarmac close to the River Usk Special Area of Conservation.

Mr Justice Williams concluded that there was no evidence that the company “would suffer any kind of real prejudice” by the Hendrys staying.

A Corus spokesman said the company will be ensuring the council abides by its statement that gipsies will not stay on the site longer than two years.

A Newport City Council spokeswoman said it is pleased with the decision and proposals for a permanent site for travellers is being considered as part of the Newport Local Development Plan that is being drawn up.

The Hendry family did not want to comment.