WINCHESTER City Council is heading to the High Court in its legal battle to evict six families from a travelling showmen's site near Micheldever.

The council is challenging a planning appeal decision that allowed a group of travellers to remain at Carousel Park.

A hearing is scheduled in the High Court in London on Friday January 25.

The row dates back to 2003 when the city council granted planning permission for the site on the condition it was only occupied by people working in travelling shows and fairgrounds.

The idea was for about 50 people to live in mobile homes on the Stratton woodland site during the winter. The land was divided into plots for nine families, all supposed to be members of the Travelling Showmen's Guild.

Planners issued an enforcement notice in 2010 for an alleged breach of this condition but the occupants appealed.

Inspector Douglas Martin quashed the notice, ruling the condition it should only be occupied by show people was never officially incorporated into the permission.

Now the city council is seeking a judicial review of Mr Martin's decision.

A council spokesman said: “There were a number of things that the council was not happy about with the appeal decision, including the loss of a large travelling show people's site which is in high demand to accommodate travelling show families.”

The city council's planning department has previously come under fire from Micheldever Parish Council for the apparent blunder that allowed the occupants to stay put.