Traveller site allowed in highly vulnerable flood risk area

The siting of a caravan for residential use was allowed and the enforcement notice quashed, in open countryside in Norfolk, on the basis the appellant was a gypsy and traveller, the site met a need for such accommodation in the area and no harm ensued from the use.

The inspector first assessed whether the appellant met the definition set out in Annex 1 of Planning Policy for Travellers' Sites. The council accepted that the appellant was a cultural gypsy and traveller but considered the level of evidence provided was inadequate for the purposes of establishing that he met the PPTS policy definition of gypsy and traveller. Also, that his period of non-travelling time while in occupation at the site indicated that he had ceased to travel.

In considering the evidence, the inspector held the appellant was a person of nomadic life who had ceased to travel due to previous illness. However, he was assured by the submission of health assessments that the appellant’s health was improving, and that he intended to resume travelling for work (tree and gardening work with his son) in the future. In addition, the inspector noted a need for nine gypsy and traveller sites in the area in the plan period and no intention by the council to allocate sites. He maintained the council did not have a five-year supply of sites, so the proposal would meet an identified need and had the benefit of constituting a private site which the council aimed to promote.

Although the site was in a highly vulnerable area with respect to flooding, the inspector held it passed the sequential and exception tests because there were no other alternative suitable sites available for such a use, it could be made safe for its lifetime through anchoring and raised floor levels and the site was justified in that the proposal provided wider sustainability benefits in terms of provision of homes for everyone in order to achieve balanced and integrated communities. 

Inspector: Thomas Shields; Hearing

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