Council defers decision on plan for Gipsy pitch

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A COMMITTEE considering whether to approve plans to transform an area of countryside into a Gipsy site is not yet ready to make a decision.

St Edmundsbury Borough Council’s development control committee met last Thursday and was expected to decide on an application – first submitted in April last year – which proposes to develop land in Glassfield Road, Bardwell, into a gipsy pitch with stable block and a dayroom.

The proposal, which has received widespread criticism, was recommended for approval but councillors on the committee deferred making a decision until they had carried out a site visit.

Peter Sanderson, chairman of Bardwell Parish Council, who was at the meeting, said: “Our general view of it is that it was probably a good sign but we’ll just have to wait and see.”

“It’s probably fairly obvious that if it’s turned down by the committee the applicant would appeal, so it’s likely to be a long drawn out affair,” he added.

Bardwell and Stanton parish councils have objected to the application on the grounds its approval would have a negative impact on the villages and the character of the surrounding countryside.

They also say a ‘recognised need’ for the site has not been established and fear approval of one Gipsy pitch would open the doors to future expansion, as happened in February with a site in Wickhambrook.

Kelvin McDonald, chairman of Stanton Parish Council, said: “I think the committee listened to the concerns that were raised and, listening to the debate afterward, it’s evident there’s a lot of questions that still haven’t been answered so I’m pleased with the decision to do a site visit and get answers.”

The applicant is Miss S Oakley, whose agent is Green Planning Solutions LLP, of Shrewsbury.

A spokeswoman for St Edmundsbury Borough Council said a date for the visit had not yet been set.

The latest figures show that St Edmundsbury needs to find three additional Gipsy or traveller pitches by 2016.