The council said it has served a landowner with a notice after it was alerted of an illegal encampment in Darwen.

Blackburn with Darwen council said he been made aware of an ‘unauthorised encampment’ on private land south of Whitehall Park.

The council said: “Officers have been out to the site and have served the landowners with a Planning Contravention Notice.

“This advises the landowners that a retrospective planning application is required for a change of land use. 

“They have also been advised to stop any work.

“The owners have 21 days to submit an application. The council considers that there has been a breach of planning control by unauthorised excavation of this land.

“This includes the importation of material to carry out hardstanding excavation works.”

The local authority said it had notified all relevant public bodies, including the Environment Agency to check whether a permit has been granted, Natural England and Lancashire Constabulary’s Wildlife Crime Officer, ‘to investigate any damage to protected habitats’.

The statement adds: “We will also be speaking directly to residents in the immediate area.

“We do understand the concerns that have been raised and hope that you can help by sharing this update with residents and park users. Please be assured that the council will be using every power at its disposal to stop any unauthorised activity. 

“In the borough there are currently eight authorised traveller sites to ensure adequate provision is provided.”