The site already had temporary permission as a residential gypsy site for six pitches. The proposal involved extending the site to allow for permanent use for seven mobile homes and five touring caravans with space to meet site licence regulations. The site’s location in the green belt meant, the inspector opined, that it caused definitional harm by virtue of being inappropriate development. The inspector also held the extension of the site would cause further loss of openness and incursion into the countryside resulting in substantial weight against the scheme.
In considering the proposal against adopted and national policies on traveller sites the inspector found it met most requirements, being only 850m from the nearest facilities and close to main road networks suitable for the gypsy way of life, was well screened and incorporated a landscape mitigation scheme resulting in very little impact on the visual dimension of green belt openness or the character of the area. In looking at the policy aspects of need for gypsy sites, he noted the council was meeting its need based on up-to-date assessments even when taking into account amendments to that assessment following examination. However, he afforded great weight in the final balance to the fact that there were currently no suitable and available alternative pitches within the area for the current existing households, including ten children and adults with health problems, to move to. He also afforded weight to the regional and national shortage of traveller sites and the fact that the appeal site was a preferred option for consideration as a gypsy site in the emerging local plan. He concluded these factors would outweight the time-limited impacts on the green belt and meant a temporary permission was acceptable.
Inspector: Paul Dignan; Hearing