Gypsies may appeal after plan refused

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A GYPSY family is considering whether to appeal after losing a planning application to expand a site at Depden.

The Goodey family now face enforcement action from St Edmundsbury Borough Council over the number of caravans at Kelly’s Meadows.

The council refused permission for three caravans on the site in 2004 but lost on appeal the following year, an appeal that cost the council £5,816.25 plus staff costs.

The family currently has seven caravans on site – they said the poor health of family members led to more of their relatives moving on to the meadows – and they were seeking permission for 10 caravans at the council’s development control committee on Thursday.

Councillors clashed with their own planning and legal officers over the scheme.

Cllr Peter Steven said he was not happy with the site’s security.

“Should there be unacceptable occupation by other travellers it would be difficult for us to us to take enforcement action against them without huge costs to this council,” he said.

However legal officer Joy Bowes said the same could be said of any farmer’s field, regardless if there were already gypsies living there and it was not a sufficient reason to refuse the application.

Wickhambrook ward member Derek Redhead said villagers were not happy as the plan involved the council spending £750,000 of taxpayers money developing the site and leasing it back to the family.

The application was turned down on the grounds that it was not close to community facilities, would have a detrimental affect on the appearance of the countryside, and because of safety concerns about the proposed access on to the A143.

John Popham, a planning agent for the Goodeys, said: “The family were disappointed at the decision.”

But Jeff Claydon, chairman of Wickhambroook Parish Council, was pleased. He said under the original permission the site would be reverted back to greenfield land if the Goodeys ever left, while this application would have seen permanent hardstandings created.